Federal Highway Administration Office of Federal Lands Highway and Oregon State University Policy Analysis Laboratory released a new research report on Best Practices in Rural Virtual Public Involvement. This report brings together the challenges of connecting with rural communities and implementing virtual tools under the shared umbrella of public involvement.
It synthesizes existing research and practices pertaining to the overlap of rural issues in virtual public spaces, acknowledging that public transportation projects sometimes need to seek input from rural communities by methods that deviate from those used in urban projects. While the Covid-19 pandemic introduced many agencies to the utility of virtual public involvement (VPI) tools, wielding these tools in rural project settings entails its own sets of challenges, benefits, and considerations. The purpose of the report is to assist transportation practitioners in developing their own, local frameworks for decision-making around how to connect with rural communities and whether virtual tools might be appropriate in doing so. In this context, transportation practitioners might include engineers, project managers, planners, or others who are weighing public involvement strategies for transportation-related projects.
As per this report, some questions for ultimately choosing a virtual tool might include:
● Who are you trying to connect with?
● Who are the necessary partners?
● What are the outreach goals?
● When is the best time to reach out?
● Who is impacted?
● What are the unique stakeholder needs?
● Why should people be interested?
● What is your budget?