Around the World: Communication Breakdown

Posted on August 27, 2014

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Around the World in Local Government – August 2014


Frame Changers, Three Biggest Issues Facing Local GovernmentStereotyping Local Government

How do residents use digital technology to stay in touch with each other, and with their local governments?

Brian H. – Assistant to the Director (Chief) at San Antonio (TX) Police Department

All the ways you might expect, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and e-mail.  San Antonio also has a series of apps to help you connect with City government to do things like report graffiti or a pothole, you can check your days for garbage and recycling collection.  You can also find the agenda online and read the backup material.  Regular City Council Meetings are broadcast online and work sessions are now streaming live as well.

Brian S. – Management Analyst at the Village of Elk Grove Village, IL

tumblr_md6o7hGVG01r20dhzo1_500I wish I had more experience using digital technology to stay in touch with residents.  My experience has been brief in this area.  I see residents using digital media to continuously make local bodies of government aware of complaints, complements and issues they have.  Through digital media, residents are also able to quickly gather multiple people to jump on the same issue and inundate a local government body with information good or bad.  In addition, I believe digital media has created a smaller time frame for the government to react to suggested issues.  Once your municipality is made aware of an issue, residents can sometimes expect immediate results.

Marc – Special Projects Coordinator at the City of Roanoke, VA

Our residents rely on many of the standard forms of technology to communicate with one another and with the City – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.  Several City departments maintain a presence on these various forms of social media, the most active being the Office of Neighborhood Services and the Department of Economic Development. The City also produces frequent email blasts under the My Roanoke banner.

That being said, the City recognizes the diversity of the population we serve. For every young, tech-savvy innovator, we have a senior citizen inquiring about where to find a paper copy of our yearly calendar. That sort of bifurcation in our population means the City must strike a balance between the newest technology and doing things the traditional way.

Stephen – City Clerk at City Of Guelph, ON (Canada)

People are obviously using social media more and more. That being said, we can’t forget about traditional media outlets as well given that aging populations will defer to what they are used to accessing. In the Clerks world, we’ve been watching closely how some municipalities are using social media to provide live, real-time updates to what is occurring in Council/Committee meetings. This makes the discussion live and on-time for people that may not be able to attend meetings in person.

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