A Quick Look Back – Public Works Group Blogging Statistics

This month marks the sixth anniversary of the start of this blog. With so many new readers visiting each year, I realize many might not know why this blog was started. So I thought I'd take a few moments to revisit the original reason the Public Works Group was formed and how it has evolved.

In Dec. 2006, I attended Autodesk University. At one of the main sessions of that event, an architect, Jon Brouchoud, demonstrated how he was using Second Life, a 3D virtual world, to design homes for people. His presentation was an impressive display of technology. Excited by the potential I saw in those few short minutes, I joined Second Life myself and soon began my own exploration of that virtual space.

Because the main reason I had joined was to promote my profession and the city where I worked, I took advantage of Second Life's group feature to set up groups for these interests. However, I noticed by watching other groups in that space that they often used a website and other emerging social media tools to interact with and provide information for their group. So by Feb. 2007, the Public Works Group was established online for the purpose of supporting the groups in Second Life and to offer information about public works, government, social media, and virtual worlds to people who were there and others who were not yet in that virtual space. Since that time, we've expanded the range of topics covered here to include other online tools and technology. And we've branched out to reach all people whether or not they are involved in virtual worlds.

Today we have a site that explores many topics ranging from online technology like social media and virtual worlds to age-old topics like planning, design, construction, regulation, community, and governance. Throughout the years, my husband, who is also a civil engineer working in government, has been my primary partner. But we've also had others contribute and post on the site.

So with six years of information and over 300 posts, I also wanted to take a quick look back at a few of the statistics for the site before moving into our seventh year:

Number of Posts

For me, one of the most interesting statistics to see is how many posts were created each year. Below is a graph I made showing how many posts were published for each year:

The first year was slow probably because things were just getting started – we were learning the technology and spent a lot of time just exploring online technologies. Since then, we've posted on a more regular basis. However, there were considerable more posts made in 2011. This is due to the "A Day in the Life" series in which I shared typical tasks that a City Engineer would work on each day.

Visits to the Blog

The number of visitors to the blog has increased steadily since 2007. Over the last three years, the number of visitors doubled each year from the year before to a total of almost 21,000 unique visitors reading our blog just last year.

Most Popular Posts

Following is the most popular post each year (we only started using Google Analytics in 2009 so do not have this information for 2007 and 2008):

2009: Trench Backfill: Is it best to compact, jet, fill, or dump?

2010: Conferences, World of Warcraft, and Professional Achievement

2011: Free Highway Design Software!

2012: Public Schools Coercing Kids to Share Facebook Details

What is interesting is that all but the last were written in 2008, yet each year those topics are still relevant enough to beat out all the other posts published that year. Even today, some of these posts receive the most views.

Finally, we really want to thank you for taking the time to stop by and for reading the Public Works Group Blog! We look forward to another full year of blogging and contributing to the spread of information, ideas, and resources.




Set Up Your Own Blog With Our Blog Route Plans!

Blog Route Plans Sign

Over the last year, there's been a significant increase in the use of social media by those of us working in public works. Some of us are using it for work to enhance communications with citizens or other professionals. Others have started using it only to interact with personal friends and relatives. But even though everyone seems to be getting more comfortable tweeting, sharing posts on Facebook, and watching YouTube videos, few have moved on to creating blogs. Yet just about every one of us has significant information and experiences that could be best shared with others through a blogging format. So we wondered what could the Public Works Group do to encourage and support more sharing of public works information online? And that's when we decided to launch the Blog Route Plans!

The Blog Route Plans are monthly subscription plans that can help you easily get a blog, and even a few social media sites, up and running. For a monthly fee, we can set up and host a blog for you, offer tutorials, keep your site upgraded, and provide resources and ideas for you to use to create content on your blog. And because some people feel more comfortable having others check over their posts before publishing, we can help out by providing that service too.

Based on our research, this is somewhat of a different approach to offering social media services. Most people who want a website or blog usually contract with someone or a company to provide the site. And once delivery takes place, the fee is paid, and the customer is handed a newly created site to proudly display online. But because setting up a social media site like a blog is just the beginning, we believe it's more important to provide support to you on a regular basis. After all, it's the content on your site and your engagement online that will provide the most value to your reader. And it's not always easy to come up with ideas or topics for posts or keep up with all the new tools to incorporate into your site.

Sure there are some social media consultants out there who will run your site for you and create and generate content. But the cost can be hefty, they probably don't have the public works background you do, and really social media is more about personal interaction – not just hiring someone to do it for you. So instead we want to offer services that support and help you create the best content possible. We already have the Public Works Group Website where we post information related to our industry. But through our plans, we can better keep you informed about any new social media tools out there and whether or not they can help increase the value of your site. And of course, we will send ideas and suggestions for posts. 

Some people might ask why pay for a monthly subscription when anyone can set up a blog for free on sites like WordPress.com or Blogger? For those who are interested in setting up blogs on their own, this is definitely a solution. However, we do realize that eventually some people, particularly  those setting up blogs for their companies, will need or want more control over their blog than a free hosting plan provides. And our plans are set up for people who don't want to have to worry about researching how to set up blogs, worry about maintaining a site, or worry about what tools they really should be using. The Blog Route Plans also allow the Public Works Group to act as a type of personal blogging assistant providing content ideas, checking posts, or just being there to answer questions about social media or blogging. So if you've been thinking of blogging or just have some questions, check out our plans or e-mail us with any thoughts or questions at pwg@publicworksgroup.com




Public Works Industry Starting to Blog

Saniblog ImageOver the last few years, I have been on the lookout for blogs and other social media related to the public works industry. Up until lately that trough has been a little dry, but fortunately that seems to finally be changing. As I was working on a presentation I am giving in March in Springfield, Ill., to the joint conference of IWEA and ISAWWA, I went searching as I have so often done for blogs related to water and wastewater and found quite a few. One in particular caught my eye: Saniblog.

Not sure why I haven’t come across it before, as the archive dates back to November 2007, but I know I will be subscribing to the feed now that I have found it. I highly encourage anyone working in the environmental/water/wastewater field to take a trip over to this blog. You will be rewarded with a collection of riveting and highly engaging video related to sanitation.


U.S. EPA Launches “Science Wednesday”

The U.S. EPA continues to successfully implement Web 2.0 tools in an effort to reach out to the public. Their latest launch, Science Wednesday, “will feature experiences related to environmental science, brought to you by scientists, engineers, researchers, and perhaps the occasional science writer from across EPA.” Anyone can access this feature by visiting Greenversations: the U.S. EPA blog.