March 20, 2010 By Kristy Fifelski
So what did it take for local government to see proof that social media works? Was it a decree from our tech President? Was it demand from the local citizenry? Was it a command from the elected? Nope. It was Google, an internet company from Mountain View, California.
When Google announced they’d be selecting one happy city across America to pilot their ultra-high speed gigabit fiber internet project, every local government across the country clamored to the call. (With good reason. The chosen city will be instantly world-renowned, and more importantly will be able to cultivate their community in ways we haven’t even imagined yet.)
The timeframe was the catalyst. Google only gave cities 45 days to submit their proposal. This meant the word needed to get out – faster than fast. “What was it our communication staff has been talking to us about for the last couple of years? That social media thing? Let’s do it.” So cities across the country tweeted, facebooked and youtubed their message straight to citizens with a fury. And citizens responded! They followed, fanned and shared their own messages back to the government. Sprinkle in some proclamations and town hall meetings, and presto! Local government has found a way to connect with more citizens than ever.
And now… we’re kind of committed, don’t you think? We can’t really justify pulling out all the stops and stepping through that forbidden boundary of ‘just getting our feet wet’ with this social media thing because we have to get our policy approved first, to a full-on social campaign for something like super fast internet – and not use the same power for issues that cities have been trying to connect with citizens over for ages. Huge issues, like – What should we do with your money? Where should we build stuff in the city? What programs are most important to you?
An important side note that we’re all sort of forgetting is that if Google’s test of their ultra-high speed broadband works, then all cities will benefit eventually. The goal is to test the networks, prove it works, then open it up to everyone. Of course, that kind of fiber infrastructure will take time, but I’m also hopeful the FCC’s National Broadband Plan will be a serious jumpstart.
A lovely, lovely side affect to this Googlemania is that whatever city is chosen to be the champion for the fiber project, everyone benefits from getting this crash course in how local government can use social media and have it work.
And I personally am happy that at least most of the country now knows what in the world a ‘gigabit’ is.
March 19, 2010 By Kristy Fifelski
I just have to share this! (I'm not going to say the bobblehead was my idea....)
March 12, 2010 By Kristy Fifelski
Video of Tim Berners-Lee - I'm thinking he knows what he's talking about (in case you don't know, he invented the world wide web). Watch this TED, 6 minute speech! "Tim Berners-Lee: The year open data went worldwide." I love it when my two passions converge (web stuff & presentations).
March 10, 2010 By Kristy Fifelski
I've been looking into what some of the larger cities are doing in terms of opening their data up to the public recently. San Francisco, NYC, DC, and the newest one announced last week is Seattle - all are opening city datasets to the public. Who cares? Well, I think there are some huge practical benefits. They are basically saying - "Hey local vendors and developers - take our data and make something useful out of it. We'll give you guys props and public acknowledgement" And in some cases, cash prizes!
San Francisco launched www.datasf.org. They're showcasing all the apps that have been created by the public based on their open data. Take the 'Mom Map' for instance - it uses city data on locations of playgrounds, parks, etc. and combines it with GPS info so moms can easily find kid friendly locations in the city.
Then there's some data that makes you wonder what interesting apps will come out of it. Seattle, for instance, has released data on public toilet locations..... ;-) That could be interesting.
Anyway, I'm definitely thinking of ways the City of Reno can open up certain datasets to the public. I think once people start to see the practical application of the open government initiative, right down to their smartphones, they will truly feel its value.
March 8, 2010 By Kristy Fifelski
I'm really excited about this project! Take any smart phone and browse to www.Reno.gov. The mobile website is more than just formatted to fit a cell phone screen - and it’s not an application that must be downloaded. You can navigate the site via the touch screen using specially designed menus. During emergency situations, emergency announcements will appear first on the screen. News and events have been redesigned to be accessed easily from your phone.
We’re hoping to use your feedback on how to make the mobile site better. Please take a moment to try it out and share your ideas here http://www.reno.gov/Index.aspx?page=2066 or let us know on Facebook. Thanks for your help, and don’t forget to bookmark the site on your phone.
Kristy is known as "GovGirl" in the government technology industry. She is a former city government web manager who has a passion for social media, technology and the lighter side of government life.
Catch weekly GovGirl videos here on GovTech and follow hashtag #GovGirl on Twitter for more conversation.
Signup for GovGirl's Weekly Video Email