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A social snow storm for transportation agencies

The Washington region's transportation agencies began developing their social media skills for the presidential inauguration in January, then brought them out again for the year's second biggest transportation event, the December blizzard.

I've said this trend is encouraging. We don't build that much new stuff anymore, so the success of the transportation network will more and more depend on getting useful information to travelers so they can take advantage of the network we have.

The District Department of Transportation today provided an update on its social networking efforts during the storm.

DDOT used its Twitter account and Facebook page to update the city about the snow clearing operations and -- this is important -- to get feedback from across the city. (The more active these sites are, the more feedback they are going to get. It's important for the agencies to see the feedback so they can act on it, but it also helps other travelers to get a clearer idea what's going on out there.)

DDOT says that from Friday afternoon through the cleanup work on Monday, it posted almost a hundred updates on Twitter about weather forecasts, deployment plans, snow emergency regulations and other storm-related information. DDOT also added about 250 Twitter followers during the storm, reaching a total of 1,000 Monday night.

"Residents were sending us information about locations that needed work - they even tweeted pictures of their streets - and that provided us with some valuable reconnaissance about the conditions on the roads and helped us focus our efforts," said Gabe Klein, the DDOT director. (He's also begun monthly online chats.)

Home pages are still the heart of the transportation agencies online outreach. DDOT says that more than 23,000 people visited its Web site and viewed more than 85,000 pages. The site offers traffic camera views and tracks the snow plows' progress.

Did you use any of the regional transportation agencies' social media? Did you find useful information or offer feedback?

[You can follow us on Twitter, too:]

By Robert Thomson  |  December 22, 2009; 3:12 PM ET
 | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, snow, travel tips  
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