Summertime Safety

Transportation Agencies Battle Spiking Highway Deaths

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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.

Posted on June 25, 2015
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The Drought-Time Players

Cities Cast in a Central Role to Solve California's Water Crisis

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Perhaps no state in America offers a more varied or vast cultural landscape than California, which boasts enough iconic cache to fill an entire continent. From South Bay surfers to Silicon Valley data pioneers, from Hollywood studios to hardscrabble adobes, the state's distinct, fantastically diverse imagery has long aided its residents in bucking any outside attempt to classify them under a single banner.

Likewise, its cities operate less like conjoined governmental units than they do individual cultural fiefdoms. If you've ever watched the Game of Thrones opening that majestically showcases the kingdom's far-flung outposts (Dorne! King's Landing! Winterfell!) you know how it feels for Californians to look at the cities on their state map – each Spanish-tinged name offering something starkly and viscerally different from the others in a way that's almost lyrically crafted.

Posted on June 11, 2015
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DEQs Prioritizing Public Engagement Online

Success Stories in Environmental Agency Outreach

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Okay, so I know we saythere's a new era of public engagement going on out there. But there's really not. In fact, most people have been performing effective, modern public engagement for years – with the friends and family in our personal lives. After all, we all know how we want visitors to our homes to feel. We want them to feel wanted, not just welcome. Attended to, not just noticed. So we happily put in that little bit of extra work to ensure their experience is a good one. Give a little, get back a lot. The only thing that's new in public engagement is applying this same standard to the way decision-makers interface with their clients, stakeholders and customers.

Posted on June 4, 2015
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Five Ways DOTs Are Making Highway Sides Great

Rest Stops, Call Boxes Make for Roadside Wonderland

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All over the country, transportation agencies work around the clock to keep our nation’s roads safe, clear and driveable. But they’re also responsible for a vastly larger and more dubious area of our nation’s infrastructure – the sides of those roads. Because for every mile of highway in our country, there are twice as many miles (that’s one on each side, buster) of medians, shoulders, cloverleafs, and culverts to keep safe, trimmed, trash-free and occasionally even useful. Once the sketchy domain of hitchhikers, traffic tickets, and accident disputes, these marginal masses of land are going through a bit of a renaissance in recent years and are now home to some amazing and, at times, even adorable efforts on the part of our country’s transportation planners. So with no further ado, here’s the official SmartComment list of the best things happening beside America’s byways.

Posted on May 28, 2015
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Congratulations! Your Project is Engaged!

But Success Depends on Welcoming Public to the Party

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Do you know why we at SmartComment are so into public engagement?

Because we’re a bunch of romantics and, well, the process is pretty much like a wedding engagement -- between your project and its eventual users. It starts with a big proposal, involves a lot of planning and money, some folks want to hurry it along, some want it called off -- and the whole thing can be sunk by poor communication.

Posted on May 20, 2015
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