Welcome to a new ELGL blog series, “Innovation Worth Sharing.” This series idea was created by Jennifer Teal, the city administrator for the city of Gahanna, Ohio. Learn more about Gahanna online at www.Gahanna.gov and on Twitter @CityOfGahanna
Jennifer shared with ELGL some creative ways that Gahanna engaged its citizenry on a traffic change. Local government innovation is all around us, and it’s worth sharing the ideas and projects that we’re working on that ELGL members can borrow and use in their own organizations to find success.
If you have an “Innovation Worth Sharing,” we want to hear from you – send a note to Kirsten and we’ll profile you in a future column.
As a member of ELGL, I enjoy the stories that you all share about innovation, Knopes of the Week, and government leaders who aren’t afraid to see the funny in their work. I thought I’d share my own bit of that, in the hopes that it may benefit others in similar situations.
In Gahanna, we’re in the middle of a multi-year, massive road widening project that is affecting a primary thoroughfare of the City. When completed, it will include two roundabouts in close proximity, in a community where roundabouts aren’t common or well-loved.
We’ve heard a lot from our residents about how they don’t like roundabouts, they don’t know how to use them effectively, or they’re afraid that others who don’t know how to use them will cause trouble.
To help with this, we’ve launched a multi-pronged public information campaign with flyers, media components and web content—the usual. But we know that folks don’t always tune in for that stuff. So we’re launching two other methods of education that we hope will catch residents off guard enough that they pause long enough to absorb the content.
Later this spring, we’ll be working with fast food restaurants in town to replace their usual tray liners with custom-printed informational flyers with our “Not as scary as you think!” branded messaging.
And this month, we installed a custom floor wrap just in time for our state of the city address and open house. In the “crossroads” of our City Hall, residents can practice walking through a scaled down replica of one of the planned roundabouts.
Residents have posted their own photos and compliments about the floor decals on social media, and the feedback we’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive. The best part is watching the faces of folks who are taking it in for the first time in person. They chuckle, they study the diagram, and often they practice maneuvering around the circle themselves.
A big thanks to Jennifer for sharing her story of local government innovation. She reminds us that creative and innovative ideas aren’t limited to technology. Innovation isn’t defined by technology. Jennifer proves that some of the best ways we approach our local government work is by listening to our citizens and then creating responses that fit the situation.