Indy Connect

Indy Connect: Central Indiana's Transportation Initiative is a multi-faceted public outreach and transportation planning initiative focused on bringing additional transportation options to Central Indiana.  The initiative utilized nearly every form of communication in order to reach the broadest range of constituents across Central Indiana.  The overall strategy included paid media, earned media, and a sophisticated public outreach and stakeholder engagement strategy at both the grassroots and grasstops level.  The initiative has won several awards including "Best of Show" at the 2010 Indy ADDY Awards, Silver at the 2010 Regional ADDY Awards, recognition from the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration as a national best practice, and awards from the Indiana Chapter of the American Planning Association.


Aloft's Owner and Principal, Sean White, started his engagement with Indy Connect at the end of 2008 - before the initiative even was conceived.  Sean served as the project manager for the Central Indiana Transit Task Force, a group of Central Indiana based CEO's and community leaders who wanted to take an unbiased look at what the region's transportation future should look like.  The Task Force was funded and managed by the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, and the Central Indiana Community Foundation. Sean managed the consulting team hired to complete the planning and economic studies, facilitated the discussion with Task Force's 15 members, briefed and educated local elected officials and government leaders, and led the Task Force to it's first major milestone in the winter of 2009 / 2010 with the release of the Task Force's plan.  

View the Original Central Indiana Transit Task Force Report - authored by Sean White

After the report was released in early 2010 - Sean stayed with the initiative into it's next phase, which involved creating a robust public outreach initiative - now known as "Indy Connect".  Sean worked with the public sector partners (Indianapolis  Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority (CIRTA), and IndyGo), who had been part of the Task Force process as well, to implement this region wide public input and planning initiative using the Task Force report as a starting place.  Sean, through Aloft Strategies, continues to manage that initiative today.

The Indy Connect Strategy

The original goal of the initiative was to educate as much of the population of Central Indiana as possible on the reason why multi-modal transportation is important, what transit can mean for a community, and specifically on the proposed plan and the associated technologies that were proposed as part of it.  That feedback was to be taken into consideration, along with stakeholder and elected official input by professional planners as the plan was refined and costed.  

In order to create this dynamic public engagement on a level never before seen in the region - it was important to use as many forms of communication as possible.  This included a cohesive blend of paid media advertising, earned media, and public outreach through grassroots and grasstops efforts.

Tactics used included:

  • A highly interactive website as the centerpiece
  • A 3D rendering and video
  • Over 150 public meetings and speaking engagements
  • Speaker's bureau
  • Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
  • E-newsletters
  • Stakeholder and Business Community Engagement
  • TV, Radio, Billboard, and Print advertising
  • Participation in local festivals and fairs
  • Printed collateral development and distribution
  • Op-ed placement
  • Editorial Boards






Additionally, in the Summer of 2011, Aloft Strategies orchestrated a unique opportunity for Indy Connect at the Indiana State Fair.  "Indy Connect Day" was August 19, 2011 and among other things involved creating an Indy Connect Experience where visitors could learn, through all their senses, what transit in Central Indiana could look like in the future.  A Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) vehicle was brought in from Cleveland, OH, a scale model of a DMU train was brought in from Chicago, and seven "stations" were created where people could learn about bus, BRT, rail, biking, and transit oriented development in an interactive environment.  

Read More About the State Fair in an Indy Connect e-Newsletter

The Results

The true test of the success of the Indy Connect initiative will be when the region begins expanding it's offering of public transportation services.  However, the initiative has clearly led to significant strides in that direction.  Most recently, in early December of 2011, a group of local elected officials, business and community leaders announced their support of a phased implementation of the Indy Connect plan and they called on the Indiana General Assembly to pass legislation allowing for a referrenda in at least two Indiana counties.

Outside of that - the metrics are pretty impressive.

  • Over 150+ public meetings and briefings held
  • 10,000+ comments received
  • 100,000+ hits to the Indy Connect website
  • 50,000+ reached at the State Fair
  • 3,500+ Facebook fans
  • 800+ Twitter followers
  • 70,000+ brochures distributed
  • 400+ media placements
Recognition for Indy Connect
  • Recognized by FHWA and FTA as national “best practice” for public involvement - 2010
  • Indiana MPO’s annual award for public involvement - 2010
  • Indiana Chapter of the American Planning Association – Best Plan and Best Marketing program – 2011
  • “Best of Show” for local ADDY award competition - 2011
  • Silver award for regional ADDY award competition - 2011
  • Nominated for national ADDY award - 2011


Indy Connect was also recognized by and given the opportunity to present at the Transport Chicago transit conference in 2011.

Detailed White Paper on Indy Connect presented at Transport Chicago

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