Perform before-research to determine what customers want from 511 services and continue to evaluate the system after implementation.
A national experience with the development and deployment of 511 Systems.
Minnesota,United States; Utah,United States; Virginia,United States
The 511 Deployment Coalition and implementers have invested significant resources to determine what customers want from 511 services. While 511 services are still relatively new to consumers, several clear trends are emerging.
In late 2001, ITS America conducted the first national 511 market research. They conducted a nationwide telephone survey and multiple focus groups across the country. The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky 511 system was the only system in operation so the findings were considered to be a "before" baseline. These baseline results included the following items:
- About 10% of those surveyed had heard of 511
- 78 % said weather-related and road surface condition information was critical or useful for 511 systems to provide
- 75 % thought that road incident reports were critical or useful
- Respondents from the Midwest were most concerned with weather
- Respondents from the Northeast reported their greatest need to be accident or incident reports
- For transit riders, information on delays was most critical followed by travel time estimates
- Roadside signs and other marketing materials should avoid using the word "traveler." The focus groups felt the word connotes a tourist or others unfamiliar with the area. "Travel Information" was the preferred phrase
- Perform local consumer research on the 511 service during the planning stage of the project. Research should include what potential users want in a 511 service, how the users will react to the service and what benefits people expect to get out of the service. Consumer research is most effective when performed during the planning stage, once a demonstration system is available, or six months to one year after the service is implemented and then every 12 to 18 months. The Utah DOT held focus groups to gauge consumer reaction to the system that Utah DOT had envisioned. One of the strongest reactions that the focus group provided was to the thought of using an automated system. The majority of the participants thought the only way to deliver the information in a quality easy to use manner would be through live operators. However, after hearing a demonstration of what a voice activated system with concatenated speech outputs would sound like, the participants found it more than acceptable and were surprised at the system's quality and ease of use. This is the type of system that Utah has in place today.
- Evaluate the 511 service after the system is implemented for user satisfaction. In Minnesota, a statewide travel information survey was performed to determine user awareness and the likelihood of use. MnDOT received the following results to two key questions reflecting usage and customer satisfaction:
- "Overall, how satisfied are you with the 511 service?"
- Very/ Somewhat satisfied – 93%
Not very/ Not at all satisfied – 7%
- Very/ Somewhat likely – 93%
Not very/ Not at all likely – 7%
- Incorporate consumer research in system development and enhancement. The Virginia DOT, primarily through the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, has incorporated consumer research into the development of the 511 system and its enhancements. Before the 511 system was implemented, potential users were asked to review and rank a series of potential 511 signs. The signs had various layouts (horizontal vs. vertical) and contained slightly different phrases in an attempt to display what potential callers would see on the highways. By far, the focus groups across the state recommended using: a vertical sign alignment; the word "travel" instead of "traveler," and "dial" instead of "call" or other variations. The results reinforced the ITS America-led research effort and the roadway signs located in Virginia's 511 service coverage area reflect this direct consumer input.
Author: 511 Deployment Coalition
Published By: AASHTO, APTA, ITS America, USDOT
Source Date: 9/3/2003URL: http://www.its.dot.gov/511/511ver2.htm
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