We Went to a Planning Conference
SmartComment Spent a Weekend with California County Planners. Here’s What We Learned.
As SmartComment continues to talk and work with a wider group of clients -- from transportation project teams to environmental agencies to local governments -- we are repeatedly impressed by the public entities we see embracing new ways of doing things. For example, the agency leader who makes sure that data from a public comment period remains accessible and digitally preserved instead of scattering into file cabinets and manila folders. Or the public outreach official, tasked with setting up a public hearing, who uses laptops and a website to provide electronic comments alongside the usual stack of comment cards.
Five Reasons for SmartComment
Still Relying on Written or Emailed Public Comments? Here’s Why You Need to Upgrade
We were excited to announce the news last week about our latest client, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, chucking its former comment period process in favor of a fully integrated electronic comment management system from SmartComment. In charge of protecting the beauty and natural resources of that state, the Wyoming DEQ will now use our public comment software to manage more than 1,000 comment periods per year related to air and water permits, environmental rule changes and other sensitive ecological matters -- assuring that the viewpoints of the public members they serve are heard and handled with the most secure, convenient, and easy-to-manage method available.
Here are the top five reasons we think your forward-thinking, publicly engaged regulatory agency should follow their example and switch to SmartComment as well:
The Interstate Blues
SmartComment Lays Out The Nation's Highway Funding Alternatives
Imagine for a second that you have the coolest job in the world (besides working for SmartComment, of course). You've got responsibility, exciting travel, even a small touch of fame. And because we're all adults here, let's assume you also have dependents. But not just a few. We're talking 250 million of them. Oh, and there's one more catch: Instead of receiving a paycheck commensurate with your status and obligations, you make a lot less. Like, basically your old junior high allowance from 20-plus years ago.
A Public Comment Primer
SmartComment’s Tips for Creating an Effective Project Comment
When it comes to public comment management we at SmartComment don't play favorites. Every comment that comes into our system is a valued part of the proposal dialogue – from that 1,000-word comment entered into a SmartComment web site to a written comment from the public put in a box at a public hearing.
We look at each of these public comments like our children. Each and every one that's entered into our public comment software has a special place in our family. The loud one, the polite one, the thoughtful one, the rambunctious one – they're all accounted for, heard and responded to – all the while diligently funneled toward graduation into the proposing agency's final report or Environmental Impact Statement.
Fact is, we truly do appreciate and admire anyone who takes time out from life's other priorities to stand up and represent the public in matters that far too many people assume are being adequately considered and weighed by, well... someone else.
But as these tiles are formed into a public engagement mosaic, we can't help but notice that some submitted opinions simply have that special sauce. With the noticeable zing and the savory aftertaste. That way of getting their point across that makes us want to stand up and clap our hands. That blend of articulation and reason that we just know other people are going to notice too.
So with that ideal in mind, here are SmartComment's official tips for writing a truly effective public comment.
Transportation Agencies Battle Spiking Highway Deaths
For many Americans, summer is a time for rest and relaxation.
But to the agencies managing our nation's highways, summer has a very different reputation -- as the deadliest three months of the year. It's an alarming and seemingly contradictory fact: twice the number of people die on America's highways during the summer than during the rest of the year combined, as seeming benefits like dry roads and clear visibility are offset by factors such as heavy traffic (road trips, vacations, etc.) and a significantly higher number of intoxicated drivers. Of course these facts are well known to the nation's safety and transportation planners, who find themselves in nothing short of a war with the rising tide of grim statistics, and are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to reverse them. So as we yet again enter this paradoxical season of lowered inhibitions and heightened danger, SmartComment takes a break from public comment management and looks at how the problem is being tackled by those policing and protecting our country's roadways. And when the task is convincing Americans to slow down and sober up, the transportation agency battle plans we found are marked by communication, humor, creativity – and even tragedy.