Internal teamwork helps outreach of TMIP
Pooling the talented resources of multiple programs located in multiple locations to support a single effort sounds ideal in theory, but is not always easy. The support and outreach program of the Travel Model Improvement Program (TMIP) at the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) pulls it off, though, and is a great example of internal collaboration.
TMIP is a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) program that aims to improve the state of the art in travel demand forecasting. TMIP helps planning agencies improve the computer models and forecasting techniques used to inform decision makers on how growth in population and employment, development patterns and investments in transportation infrastructure are likely to affect travel, congestion, air quality and quality of life. With the help of different programs within TTI, the Center for Professional Development supports the outreach activities of TMIP that include:
- A website with current events and information about the TMIP program that is maintained by the Interactive Media group and Events Management and Planning.A document information clearinghouse supported by Library Services.A newsletter (TMIP Connection) published 3-4 times a year with a readership of over 1,200 practitioners from around the world.
- Attending several major conferences a year to distribute information about TMIP. The booth is staffed by the Washington D.C. TMIP liaison and TTI Associate Research Specialist Penelope Weinberger.
- Summarizing comments received on the e-mail discussion list and documenting peer-exchanges at agencies throughout the country by the researchers in the Travel Forecasting Program.
“Careful planning makes collaboration work,” says Weinberger. “Knowing who your teaming partners are and what their capabilities are, as opposed to chancing upon them, makes for more effective and better collaboration.”
TTI also helped create and moderate an active e-mail discussion list with nearly 900 subscribers. This discussion list is a resource for professionals to ask questions and share information throughout the country and might eventually move to a blog-type format. The first TMIP webinar is also scheduled for the end of June.
Gary Thomas, director of the Center for Professional Development at TTI and project manager for the outreach activities for TMIP, acknowledges that pulling together so many different programs for one effort has its challenges, but overall the operation runs smoothly.
“Our customer doesn’t see the different departments at TTI,” says Thomas. “They just see TTI as a whole. So it’s really important that we collaborate with each other very well. We have to be able to present a product to a client that looks like it came out of one office, and I think we do a great job of accomplishing that goal.”