Lessons from Pennsylvania's award-winning State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) reached a nationwide audience of state-level transportation officials on April 11.
PennDOT's Bureau of Innovations highlighted the Pennsylvania STIC's successes and enviable track record of widespread collaboration at the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) National STIC Meeting from Washington, D.C.
Broadcasting from the Commonwealth Media Services studio in Harrisburg, bureau staffers Danielle Klinger-Grumbine and Anja Walker outlined the accomplishments of the Pennsylvania STIC in an "Innovation Through Collaboration and Communication" presentation that was seen by state DOT officials across the nation. They stressed the STIC's breadth – representing 26 organizations from government, industry, planning agencies, and academia and how active engagement of all parties spells the difference between success and failure.
Highlighting a record of success since its inception in 2012, STIC has reviewed more than 80 innovations. Besides supporting and promoting deployment of FHWA's Every Day Counts innovations, the Pennsylvania STIC looks at other grassroots innovations that can be advanced.
The presentation highlighted that communication is key to advancing innovations.
"We need to ensure we are communicating about the right innovation at the right time to the right people," Klinger-Grumbine said. "Since the STIC's inception, tailored communications and collaboration with our partner organizations have played a critical role in effectively promoting STIC innovations to a variety of target audiences."
The Pennsylvania STIC's communications goals, she added, are to: 1) increase knowledge, 2) gain acceptance and 3) dispel myths about innovations among our target audiences. Buy-in and support are critical to ensure successful deployment.
The communications tools used by the Pennsylvania STIC include news releases, webinars, articles, conferences and outreach events, educational videos, social media posts, and infographics. The PennDOT Press Office assists the Bureau of Innovations with many of these tasks.
Among the STIC successes is High Friction Surface Treatment, which was embraced across the state thanks to the targeted communications efforts.
With 67 counties and more than 2,500 municipalities, Pennsylvania poses a significant challenge when it comes to educating local officials about transportation innovations. To overcome potential obstacles, the Pennsylvania STIC conducted an outreach survey and then used the results to host a Local Government Innovations Day and then a Local Government Safety Seminar.
Using PennDOT's Local Technical Assistance Program and STIC Incentive Program funding, a hands-on Salt and Snow Management Course to help spread improved winter maintenance techniques across the state was developed. So far, more than 70 on-site classes were held for nearly 1,600 participants.
Assuming oversight of STIC in 2016, the Bureau of Innovations has been working to set a vision for STIC "Moving Forward." A strategic plan was unveiled in 2018, and it provides "the framework to reorganize, reenergize, and right size the STIC to increase participation opportunities to develop and deploy proven innovations across Pennsylvania," Walker said.
Walker added that the STIC Moving Forward plan established a process-driven management structure to ensure consistent innovation development practices.
Since the plan's launch, six new innovations have been submitted and are being developed for deployment.
In conjunction with the strategic plan, the STIC Management Team is also working on a comprehensive marketing strategy and communications plan. It calls for developing a STIC catalogue of innovations, a STIC media center with ready-to-use communications materials for use by partners and stakeholders and added in-person awareness briefings and webinars to bring the innovations message home.
A recording on the National STIC Meeting is available on FHWA's website. To learn more about the Pennsylvania STIC, visit the STIC's website, which features the 2018 STIC Year-End Report.