Photo: Polk County, Fla., managers prior to an e-town hall meeting/Photo courtesy of Polk County
Dating back to Colonial days, the town meeting has been a longstanding staple of American society. Centuries later, the Internet revolutionized the concept of a community forum. And now, in at least one corner of the country, local governments are using the Web as a digital platform for public discourse.
Last September, Polk County, Fla., held its first e-town hall meeting, which was such a success that Pinellas County, Fla., followed suit six months later. In both counties, the idea is not to permanently replace face-to-face meetings. But e-town hall meetings offer a cost-effective alternative that lets residents participate from the comfort of their own homes.
"IT and communications are running together in a way like they haven't before," said Nate Graham, production specialist for Polk Government Television (PGTV), about what's driving the new concept.
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