Last year’s annual report (2022) focused on reimagining transportation in OKI’s region to improve the quality of life and economic prosperity. But think back to the early days of OKI, which was established in 1964, when the goal was simply to identify objectives of mutual benefit to the 8-county region.

Civic engagement was not nearly as structured and primarily featured public meetings. Today, nearly sixty years later, OKI uses a plethora of options to highlight how the agency fulfills its obligation to ensure public engagement.

In addition to the public meetings and public hearings held in earlier years, today’s options to increase civic engagement include staff attendance and participation in community council meetings, as well as electronic and on-line surveys, Facebook postings, virtual meeting formats, updates on the OKI website and X (formerly known as Twitter). Many of these technological offerings were not available in 1964.

Activities to communicate, coordinate and cooperate continue to be objectives of OKI’s public involvement specialist, along with the involvement of staff with members of OKI’s Environmental Justice Advisory Committee when time to review, score and rank applications requesting STBG, SNK, CMAQ and TA funding for proposed projects.

When appropriate, staff conduct quarterly meetings for members of the Tristate Transportation Equitable Opportunity Team to encourage the sharing of best practices for working with the elderly and individuals with disabilities relative to transportation needs.

Staff continue to update OKI’s Title VI Program, its Public Participation Plan and its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Plan in a timely manner to keep residents and businesses in the region informed of OKI’s transportation planning investments and activities.

Staff also enhance its civic engagement by participating in Cincinnati Metro’s Greater Cincinnati Region Paratransit Coordination meetings, SORTA/Cincinnati Metro Vendor Diversity Business Expo and Su Casa Hispanic Center’s Health Fair activities.

The development of a working relationship with Su Casa has been a great opportunity to demonstrate to residents in our region, especially those who are limited English proficient, that even though English may not be their primary language, OKI still wants to hear from them. When staff participate in health fairs and other such activities, the handout materials are provided in both Spanish and English and the videos with Spanish subtitles.

As global technological advances to communicate with the masses continue to evolve, the challenge for OKI will continue to be one of identifying and sustaining efficient modes of communication appropriate to reach the 2.1 million residents who live in OKI’s eight-county region across three states. This challenge may be tempered by the fact that the modes of communication should hopefully also result in civic engagement increases.