Principal Investigators: Andrea Lubin, Miriam Salerno
Rutgers VTC is currently undertaking research and manual development for State departments of transportation (DOTs), metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), rural planning organizations (RPOs), and other transportation agencies who can benefit from the development of structured, research-based guidance on how to choose and employ virtual public involvement (VPI) tools effectively, efficiently, and perhaps most importantly—equitably. The research approach blends desktop research with quantitative and qualitative research tasks, including surveys, interviews, and focus groups designed to identify best practices for VPI in varied planning and project development contexts. The team will also engage professionals both within and outside the transportation sector to document VPI during the pandemic. In addition, during the research and development of the manual, the team will attempt to anticipate the post-COVID-19 context, when agencies can once again combine VPI and traditional outreach tools without social distancing constraints. Phase I of the research study focuses exclusively on the recent experience of undertaking and transitioning VPI during the COVID-19 pandemic. Phase II focuses on the creation of the manual and additional research and data collection on guidance and best practices on VPI and original user experience (UX) research to better understand the diverse preferences of the public and practitioners’ needs when interactive with tools and platforms.