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|Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 76 · No. 5 > Internet Watch|
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-13-003
by Carrie Boris
Keeping the Customer in Mind
Making it easier for State departments of transportation (DOTs) to expedite adoption of innovative technologies and practices is a priority for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). To help, the agency recently established a new Center for Accelerating Innovation and launched the second round of Every Day Counts (EDC) initiatives, which aim to shorten project delivery, enhance the safety of roadways, and protect the environment. To accompany the launch, FHWA completed the first of a multiphase update of the EDC Web site (www.fhwa.dot.gov/everydaycounts). The refreshed site provides an overview of the EDC initiative and shares details on each technology and process promoted under the program’s first and second rounds.
Kathleen Bergeron, an FHWA marketing specialist with the Center for Accelerating Innovation, says the site presents easy-to-use content and is focused on the customer. “The site gives an understanding of what the program does, looking at it from various angles,” she says. “We wanted to improve both the content and structure to enhance the experience for an array of audiences,” especially State DOT officials. “They are the ones who really implement the innovations in the system that we are proposing,” Bergeron says.
In addition, the center strives to work more closely with local agencies, another key audience, as well as provide a source of accurate information for FHWA staff members to help spread the word about innovations championed by the EDC program. Bergeron adds that in developing the new site, designers are reinforcing the message that these technologies and processes help State and Federal funds go farther and do more.
Contributing to the Conversation
The team that developed the Web site first reviewed the sites of other commercial and government organizations before settling on a “simple but visual” approach, Bergeron says. The team “liked the idea of breaking out the information into concepts or areas that the audience is interested in.”
The most significant new features of the site are the EDC Forum and the Communities of Practice. Both provide a place for users to contribute to the conversation about innovations. The EDC Forum presents topic articles from industry and government leaders to provide “bite-sized chunks” of what the technology is about, says Bergeron. The forum is divided into general discussions, innovative contracting, and innovative technologies. Each section offers an introductory article followed by others discussing specific implementations or the value of the innovation from various perspectives.
For example, the Safety EdgeSM forum leads with an introduction from former FHWA Associate Administrator for Safety Joseph Toole and includes articles by representatives from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the West Virginia Division of Highways. Site developers also are creating videos for the EDC Forum featuring industry and government leaders speaking about specific aspects of the innovations.
The Communities of Practice offer more informal forums for members of the transportation community to ask questions and participate in discussions about specific technologies and processes. Each of the innovations from the first round of the EDC program has its own community forum with discussion threads. Participation requires users to register and login to the site in order to start threads or post responses.
Other EDC Web site updates provide improved multimedia integration. A link to FHWA’s Innovator newsletter was added to the homepage, and users now can access videos on the site, such as one that illustrates how to build a geosynthetic reinforced soil–integrated bridge system. Recorded webinars will be made available as well. A future update to the section titled “Who’s Making Every Day Count” will provide an interactive map enabling site visitors to drill down from geographic locations to the project level and innovations used on specific projects.
The revamped EDC Web site also expands the resources and information available about specific innovations. Users select a category—shortening project delivery or accelerating technology, for example—and then choose an innovation. Each topic offers a section for media with news releases, B-roll video, and still photos, as well as resources for FHWA employees with downloadable files and talking points.
“Our goal for the updated Every Day Counts site is to make it a resource for a varied group of users,” Bergeron says. “State and local agencies, FHWA, media, and even the public can quickly find information and join the conversation about these innovations.”
For more on EDC, see “Every Day Counts: The Second Phase” on page 2 in this issue of PUBLIC ROADS.
Carrie Boris is a contributing editor for Public Roads.
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