The Textizen Blog

FEB 04 2015

Real-Time Feedback Guides Construction in Palo Alto

Palo Alto construction site

Home to parts of Stanford University as well as several high-tech companies, Palo Alto, California prides itself on being a hub of innovation. In this same spirit, Palo Alto’s city government strives toward greater efficiency and better public service through technology.

One of the areas Palo Alto initially targeted for technological improvement was construction permitting and inspection. Long waits and laborious back-and-forth with multiple city departments were frustrating and expensive for developers, business owners, and architects. Palo Alto’s upgraded Development Services office was created to address these issues, establishing a single office for all construction-related processes. Developers and architects were relieved.

However, construction often affects the lives of nearby residents and commuters as well, so Palo Alto Development Services also wanted to ensure that citizens could easily provide feedback about construction projects. They launched a pilot program using a Textizen prompt on signs at construction sites, allowing passersby to learn more about and offer feedback on the project

Text-in sign close-up

Photos credit: Michaela Yule

The prompts at construction sites ask: “Curious about what’s happening here?” Texting in to the number provided sets off a brief survey, first offering project information and the contact for the project manager, then asking whether the site is tidy, as well as whether the construction is affecting people’s commutes or businesses. Respondents can also sign up to receive ongoing project updates by text message.

This simple addition to construction projects creates a dedicated channel for residents to comment or learn more about building sites, and helps ensure that construction is as unobtrusive as possible.

Comprehensive Engagement, From Construction to Commerce

In the future, this design can be expanded to become an integral part of a building project from start to completion. For instance, in the early stages of construction, a text prompt could ask for feedback on the site and any issues for commuters or area businesses. In later stages, a new survey could let respondents suggest businesses they’d like to see in the space, or inquire about renting it themselves. Text-in prompts and phone numbers could even be printed directly on building wraps to make them visible from all angles.

We’re excited to see this innovative use of text messaging for streamlining construction projects, and we hope to see more real estate projects offer this kind of public feedback in the future.

If you have questions about Palo Alto’s project, contact Peter Pirnejad at the Palo Alto Office of Development Services.

If you want to use mobile engagement to loop the public into your construction projects, get in touch: