By improving public engagement and transportation services in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) address barriers to participation and inclusivity in engagement initiatives. IDOT recently commissioned a report by researchers at the University of Illinois, Chicago, to improve and expand the agency’s public engagement practices. ‘Recommendations to Enhance Quality Engagement’, serves as a roadmap to help IDOT grow and nurture its public outreach initiatives, particularly with disadvantaged and underserved communities.
Managed by the Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement and Urban Transportation Center, the research offers a theoretical and practical guidance on public participation in the context of transportation. The study found engagement expertise to be unevenly distributed across the agency, along with a prevalence of traditional engagement techniques. In creating the recommendations, the research leverages the IAP2 Spectrum of Public Participation, as well as case studies of impactful public engagement projects in four state transportation departments, a regional planning agency, and community college.
It also provides a background to the advantages and legal implications of engagement, examining barriers to participation and considerations for including disadvantaged communities in engagement initiatives. The study offers eight major recommendations: 1) Know Your Audience, 2) Use Existing Community Resources, 3) Perform Informal Outreach and Use Nontraditional Locations, 4) Match Engagement Technique with Goal and Context, 5) Enhance Staff Capabilities through Training, 6) Build Institutional Memory through Knowledge Management, 7) Measure and Assess, and 8) Use Technology to Enhance and Complement Outreach.
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