If MNDoT can do it…

I’ve already written about MNDoT’s new context-sensitivity and efforts to engage citizens and city officials.  Then I attended a CIMS – that’s Corridor Investment Management Strategy – conference in Owatonna a few months ago dealing with the I-35 corridor and related routes a few months ago.  The latest to come from the CIMS meeting is a website dedicated to gathering citizen input to help MnDOT Develop Evaluation Criteria for the CIMS Advancing Minnesota’s Sustainable Solutions Solicitation.  The “solicitation” is a competition for $30 million to fund trunk highway projects that improve quality of life, environmental health or economic competitiveness and so MNDoT is asking for input to develop the criteria by which quality of life, environment and economic competitiveness are judged.  So far, there are 5 proposed evaluation criteria including whether a project advances multimodal access or improves air quality – go add your own or comment on what’s there (don’t forget to look at the Minnesota GO plan for more information on MNDoT’s planning)

So, if MNDoT can do this on a statewide basis, why couldn’t Northfield do this for budget issues, parks, streets, etc.?


More thoughts about citizen engagement

Using our power for good, not evil.

I went to the Rice County DFL convention today, which is citizen engagement up close and personal.  But that’s not the topic here.  Griff Wigley, our locally grown online engagement guru, linked to Steve Doyon’s Public process: Don’t botch citizen engagement which has some pithy advice not (yet) followed in Northfield.

Raw data is not enough, no matter how much of it you upload to the city website.  Northfield’s website provide lots of links to project pages with unsearchable pdfs and, indeed, Council packets tend toward lots of undigestible raw matter, too.  Providing clear, concise, compelling and relevant information remains a goal for the future.

What do you think about _______? is raw data in question form.  To elicit useful, relevant, targeted engagement and feedback, folks need to know the limits of the discussion: what’s the budget, what questions are up for discussion and decision, and what policies affect the outcome.

Northfield will be updating its website soon, but as Griff has pointed out already, the shortcomings of the current online presence are not technological, but human – we still need to have the human intervention which turns the data into usable information, frames questions appropriately and presents it all in an engaging way.