Success stories

WSDOT Keeps Traffic Flowing on 7,000 Miles of Roads With Targeted Email

1.2M+ Subscribers
State residents sign up for notifications they want.
99% Message Deliverability
With govDelivery, WSDOT knows their messages reach drivers.
361 Custom Email Lists
WSDOT separates lists to make messages relevant.
103 Daily Messages
WSDOT can easily scale communications.
With govDelivery, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) can quickly communicate traffic status at scale by delivering custom messages to drivers across the state’s 7,000 miles of highways and interstates.
Our govDelivery integration is really slick. Everything is automatic. It’s important we don’t put extra processes on our operators because they’re pretty busy!
Tom Stidham

Many Highways, Many Communications

“There’s always a lot happening,” said Tom Stidham, web applications developer at WSDOT. He was talking about the myriad of planned and unplanned events taking place across the roadways in Washington State: collisions, traffic jams, and construction work. It’s all these events that the DOT and its operators are responsible for communicating to the public in order to keep drivers safe and traffic flowing.

“In an ideal world, drivers would visit the website prior to getting into their vehicles,” added Stidham, chuckling. The reality? To keep drivers in the loop, the team at the DOT needs to get their message out every way they can. But communicating effectively and at scale with finite resources is complicated.

First, with many roadways across the state, no single mass communication will meet their audience needs. Drivers frequent different roads and will only be interested in updates on roadways that affect them. Beyond that, certain communications have more urgency than others, and therefore are best delivered via different channels. A planned event — a major roadway reconstruction, for example — is best communicated ahead of time, via email. Whereas an accident can require more immediate communications, an alert via an alert.

Finally, the act of creating and sending communications must fit into the workflow of DOT staff. The DOT’s dedicated operators, who, according to Stidham, have much to monitor at once (“Picture screens and screens and screens!”).


Custom Communications at Scale

To communicate the combination of planned and unplanned traffic events across six regional traffic management centers, WSDOT is using a combination of tools built into govDelivery, including email updates and the simple govDelivery API. It’s keeping drivers informed and operators from getting overloaded.

On the communications side, WSDOT is able to capture the email addresses of drivers interested in news within certain areas and send them curated updates. On the technology side, the API requires very little effort from the development team and works automatically for operators. With it, operators are even able to send communications with custom “From” names and designs uniquely branded for their traffic management region.

How it Works

Strategy Into Practice

Here’s how WSDOT’s communication strategy is executed with help from govDelivery.

For Traffic Jams & Collisions
When the traffic management center operator learns of a traffic collision or jam, they’re able to instantly alert drivers. Operators simply enter what happened into a form and the API automates the rest.

For Construction Updates
For updates related to upcoming traffic impacts from road construction, public information officers can easily schedule an email to subscribers to their Construction Updates list, who are then able to alter their routes as they see fit.

For Hood Canal Bridge Openings
The Hood Canal Bridge is a highly trafficked bridge and serves as a critical pathway for emergency vehicles. By law, WSDOT is required to open the Hood Canal Bridge draw span to let mariners pass through within one hour’s notice. Drivers can expect up to 60-minute delays with each opening. The detour? Two hours. Interruptions from mariners can be unexpected, so communicating these interruptions is vital. With govDelivery, WSDOT can notify drivers up to an hour ahead of time.

For Notifying Media
WSDOT also needs to communicate to media when major collisions occur. Before govDelivery, they had to notify media of these incidents. Now, members of the media sign up to receive automatic notifications. The DOT can keep media informed without extra effort.

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