Understanding community preference for corridor improvements

The City of Tucson’s Department of Transportation and Mobility (DTM) sought to modernize their First Avenue corridor between Grant Road & River Road. To gather community input for this infrastructure improvement, they took a community-centric approach to that modernization. A Needs Assessment was created to evaluate and better understand the corridor’s deficiencies. The feedback was used to create two alternative design options that would modernize the First Avenue corridor. DTM leveraged the co:census dashboard to analyze & understand over 1,000 responses collected during the outreach phase of the project.

Getting to the "why" isn't easy

DTM proposed two designs that prioritized modernizing the corridor but each came with a slightly different focus. Option one focused on providing comfort & ease of access for pedestrians and bicyclists. Option 2 focused on providing pedestrian & bicyclist safety as well as traffic congestion. With such nuanced differences between the two designs, it was important for DTM to launch a robust engagement campaign that captured community members’ preferred design and understand why community members chose one design over the other.

A multimodal digital approach to community engagement

During the summer of 2021, the world was still navigating & adjusting to the new normal that COVID created. DTM wanted to safely reach as many community members as possible so they took a multimodal digital approach in their outreach phase regarding the First Avenue alternatives. Their outreach included: a co:census SMS survey, a web based survey, and several Virtual Town Hall events, all available in the most spoken languages of the communities whose input they sought. Through their extensive outreach & marketing efforts, DTM was able to collect over 1,000 unique responses from community members. 

Leveraging NLP to understand unstructured data

While it was easy to visualize & summarize how many respondents chose option one or two, understanding why community members chose each option was where the co:census dashboard was able to support DTM’s work the most. 

After uploading 1,000+ survey responses to co:census, our analytics dashboard provided DTM with real-time insights based on their data. Our top trends feature highlighted a major insight: bike lanes were deeply important to the community.

In addition to the insights yielded from our analytics dashboard, our research team put together an initial report for DTM. Our initial report summarizes & quantifies trends in your data based on your research question. We turned over a thousand rows of qualitative data into a succinct, easily digestible report so that DTM could focus more on outcomes rather than analysis.

Looking ahead

DTM finished their round of public input in the Fall of 2021 and plan to move forward with project design in early 2022 using the insights gathered from the engagement phase. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2025/2026 with modernization completed two years afterwards.

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