YouTube is not really the first place you’d expect a government department to post research project results. Rather than presenting a dry, 500 page pdf research report for all the bridge enthusiasts to devour, (and yes they do exist!), the Washington State Department of Transport has found a novel way to present the findings of the $21,000 research project to simulate the failure of the 44 year old state Route 520 crossing over Washington Lake, east of Seattle.

The scenarios presented are strong winds and earthquake, click play to see their work…



The value in this presentation is that by using the latest graphical and design software and technology, researchers can bridge the gap (no appologies for the pun) between the science and the public or officials who need to make decisions based on the research results. But again, rather than offering just a powerpoint presentation to a boardroom full of officials, the team, obviously with consent from the WSDOT has posted it on YouTube, the world’s largest video sharing site.

At writing of this post about 100,000 people have viewed these simulations, and there have been 150 comments left on YouTube, not counting those left on sites with the video embedded on them. Now these are not all engineers, policy makers or necessarily technical people, but the point is thta it hardly matters. Interested people have been able to get an insight into the workings of a government department’s research. As a result, WSDOT has gained kudos and acknowledgment that they are on the modern edge of things internet and social.

There may be only one individual in the department that understands the power of YouTube and social media, but that’s all it has taken to get these great simulations out of the boardroom and into the public domain.

What graphical or presentation work of your company or department could be presented as a video on YouTube, or on Flickr (or even better Zooomr) as photos?

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Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

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