Making The Technical Engaging

By Christopher Dunne and M. André Primus

We have a lot of specialized technical knowledge about planning, transportation, and commercial redevelopment between the five of us here at Highland Planning. You might even call some of us (myself) nerds. Unfortunately, with technical knowledge comes technical jargon and abstract concepts that can be difficult for people to digest. To break through this barrier we are constantly creating, finding, and testing new techniques.

When we were charged with explaining some of the tradeoffs in transit planning as part of the Reimagine RTS project, Christopher had a stroke of inspiration. After a trip to the store and some investment in InDesign options, and we had a customized version of the Guess Who?” board game.

On each side of the board there are competing focuses a transit system can have, such as “Frequency vs. Coverage” and “Corridor Focus vs. Neighborhood Focus.” For each row, we ask participants to indicate where on the spectrum their preference falls, then we flip down that row to show where both the current RTS system and industry best practices stand. This facilitates a conversation about tradeoffs and invites people to consider the larger picture behind possible system changes.

​The activity has proved immensely useful so far in creating in-depth dialog about what people want from their transit system, and we look forward to using the exercise more with this and other projects.

Using the tradeoff activity to discuss possibilities for the RTS system through a Spanish translator.
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