Notes from National League of Cities: Social Media and Municipalities

Today, I am writing live from Denver, Colorado, where I am participating in a panel for the 2010 National League of Cities (NLC) Congress of Cities and Exposition. Fellow panelists include:

Mark Basnight, Public Information Officer, Charlotte Fire Department
Andrew Bleeker, Principal, Bully Pulpit Interactive (Obama Campaign)
Pam Broviak, City Engineer/Assistant Director of Public Works

at City of Geneva, IL
John O’Leary, Harvard Ash Center Professor, Author of “If We Can Put a Man on the Moon”
Alan Shark, Executive Director and CEO of the Public Technology Institute (PTI)

First, the moderators (Tom Matzzie, former Washington Director of MoveOn.org, and Ron Orlando of Comcast) asked the crowd for questions. Here’s what’s on the mind of municipal employees related to social media:

– How do I balance a public and private facing social media presence?
– How do I as an elected official balance transparency with being overly vulnerable to poltical attack?
– How can I survey constituents?
– How do you assign time and resources to social media?
– What’s the impact of social media on the US Postal Service in 5-10 years?
– How do we handle negative comments?
– How do I use Twitter and what’s the difference in how I use Twitter vs. Facebook?

Great questions – and we probably need more than 3 hours to answer them all!

Then John O’Leary kicked things off talking about “How to Bring Public Value to Citizens.” Some of his thoughts:

– Local government is in an incredibly precarious situation right now with tight budgets
– Unlike the 1940s or 1960s when government was celebrated, there’s widespread public discontent
– Technology is one key and barriers to scale are falling with products/platforms having more rapid reach
– How do you bring public value in this environment?
– We need a reboot
– Story 1: Street Sweeping in DC – enabled street sweepers to write up tickets for cars illegally parked on streets; ended up reducing scofflaws and increased revenues for the city
– Story 2: Metro Boston Transportation Authority – released their bus line data at a developer’s conference; within an hour, the developer’s had created a mash-up that showed location of buses
– Story 3: Social Media Crime Fighting through Neighbors for Neighbors – created a social network that connects citizens in Boston and reduced crime in the process
– The Future: unleash data, low cost, leverage private developers, crowdsourcing, transformative tech

Next up is Alan Shark talking “Civic Engagement through Social Networking:”

– How do we move from citizen enragement to citizen engagement?
– Government is in the process of moving from Post to Transact to React and Interact
– How do you define your rules of engagement? You still retain a sense of control over process and content.
– It’s all about restoring trust.

Up next was Pam, Mark and I….so no live notes… more later!


>> Notes from National League of Cities: Andrew Bleeker and Tips from the Obama Campaign

>> Notes from National League of Cities: The Power of People Like You


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