Dad. Assistant City Manager. Surviving.

Category: Social Media Page 2 of 3

Code for America 2012 Fellowships Open

“What if we could help your city work better, just by using your smartphone?”

-Biz Stone, Twitter Co-Founder

“What if city hall spoke with citizens the way citizens speak with each other?”

-Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Co-Founder

Code for America is announcing their call for 2012 Fellows.  The Code for America Fellowship Program connects web developers and entrepreneurs with communities and cities in need. They strive to make government more open, efficient, and responsive, through the use of new technologies. And all the while, they provide leadership training and career support.

You can find out more about Code for America here. And you can apply for the Fellowship Program here.

Twitter Helps Cory Booker Dig Out His Residents

I am a little late on this, but I wanted to point out a great public interest/public administration/politics piece.

During the most recent snow storm on the East Coast, Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, patrolled the streets using Twitter to direct snow plows and city workers, and even shoveled out residents and cars himself.  The Twitter Blog has a great piece on Booker’s heroic efforts and it links to stories at several major news outlets.

You can follow Mayor Booker (@CoryBooker) on Twitter yourself.

These are the accomplishments we public servants can achieve with the help of social networking and social media.  These are the types of things I want to do in public service, and services like Facebook and Twitter can help us all improve our communities.

More on Social Media and Boulder Wildfire

Here are some more good links discussing the impacts of social media during the Boulder wildfire:

Denver Post – Evacuees use social media to keep up on Boulder wildfire disaster developments

The Huffington Post – Boulder Fire Stokes Community Through Social Media

iDisaster 2.0 – Social Media are being used in response to Colorado Wildfires

Websites Coordinating Response to Wildfire

There is currently a major wildfire burning in Boulder, Colorado (northeast of Denver).  More than 3,000 homes have been evacuated, and, according to that same Denver Post:

Emergency reverse 911 systems are not working properly and residents are expected to evacuate before they get an alert.

So how are people getting information about this fire?

Folks are getting up to the minute information (and more information about localized evacuations) through Twitter and Facebook.

The Boulder Office of Emergency Management maintains an excellent website with an updated Emergency Status page (and runs on Joomla!).  The Status page has been heavily updated throughout the day.

But the Boulder Office of Emergency Management also maintains a Twitter account and a Facebook page.  Both are continuously updated, and their updates are making the rounds on both social networks.

I’ve long said that small cities and counties can use social networking tools instead of licensing expensive texting software to notify citizens of emergencies (outside of reverse 911 systems, that is).  And even in this situation, when reverse 911 systems aren’t working, it is useful for all to have a backup that is easy to post to (text messages for Twitter and Facebook).

The Need for Government Data

The City of Seattle’s CTO (Chief Technology Officer) Bill Schrier writes an interesting blog, and recently posted about the need and usefulness of local (and state and federal) government data.  He notes the iterations of government presence on the Internet/web:

  • First, simply putting information online for citizens.
  • Second, online transactions (paying bills, reporting problems, applying for permits, etc.).
  • Third, “expanding information to include this bulk download or easy, machine-readable, querying of data.”  (He also notes, “in this wave of innovation, government diverges significantly from the private sector. Few private businesses will want to place large amounts of data collected at their own expense in the public domain for anyone to see and use.”
  • Fourth, sites where “constituents can not only report issues online (using a map-based interface in the case of see-click-fix) but also see what others have reported and even rank the importance of the issues which have been reported.”
  • Fifth, allow citizens to track issues (and resolution of the issues) online.
  • Sixth (and this is done by citizens and not government), citizens use government data sources to make applications (‘apps’) to inform policy-making.

Overall, this is a very good read from “the Chief Seattle Geek.”

Moving Goverments Using Open Source CMS

I have decided to move Governments Using Open Source CMSs over to a new website, FollowYourGov.

I started FollowYourGov to chronicle the use of social media and social networking in governments.  I hope to show governments taking advantage of social networks to connect with their citizens.

You can find Governments Using Open Source CMSs over at FollowYourGov.

Incredible Historical National Archives Photostream

I saw this on the White House Twitter: the National Archives photostream on Flickr.  The National Archives has uploaded some really interesting and incredible material to Flickr.  I am a history nerd, but look at all the finds:

And the best part is that most (if not all) of these documents are in the public domain, meaning you can reproduce them with no worry of copyright infringement.

City of Bozeman Causes a Stir

*Update*

The City of Bozeman apologized and has said they will stop asking for social media passwords:

“We appreciate the concern many citizens have expressed regarding this practice and apologize for the negative impact this issue is having on the City of Bozeman,” City Manager Chris A. Kukulski said in a statement.

“This was an honest mistake,” he continued. “Human Resources, our Police and Fire Departments were doing something they believed was consistent with our core values. I take full responsibility for this decision and we will work hard to regain the trust and confidence of the City Commission and our community.”

*End Update*

The City of Bozeman, Montana, has caused a bit of a stir with a requirement in their job application.  Their job application requires potential hires to provide the City with usernames and passwords to any social networks they belong to:

Please list any and all, current personal or business websites, web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc. [source: Background check waiver, pdf file]

They mention Google, but I wonder if that includes Google’s email service, Gmail.

The City doesn’t seem to be worried about the privacy implications of requiring applicants to give up their logins, because the city attorney had this to say to the local media:

“You know, I can understand that concern. One thing that’s important for folks to understand about what we look for is none of the things that the federal constitution lists as protected things, we don’t use those. We’re not putting out this broad brush stroke of trying to find out all kinds of information about the person that we’re not able to use or shouldn’t use in the hiring process,” Sullivan said. [emphasis added]

So trust us, we are only looking on your Facebook pages for things that aren’t covered under Freedom of Speech.

The local news station has a followup story here.

The City Manager provided the reasoning for the requirement for login information:

City Manager Chris Kukulski said the city checks the sites in order to ensure that employees who might be handling taxpayer money, working with children in recreation programs or entering residents’ homes as an emergency services worker are reputable and honest.

This might be true, but employers didn’t have access to this type of information prior to social networks, and still they made employment decisions.

I find it hard to believe that someone would ask for your logins on an employment application, let alone a public organization.  A respect for social networking tools would allow the City of Bozeman to spread the work about their community, but instead they are getting flamed on Twitter and elsewhere.  I take special note of this comment on Slashdot:

This has certainly done a lot of damage to our credibility as a tech friendly city (there are strong optics and software/service companies already operating here).

Links: Complaints via Twitter, Smartphones, Eagle Scouts

To follow up on my last post, here are some more random links that have recently come across my radar.

First, I am writing this in version 2.8 of WordPress.  WordPress 2.8 is an incremental improvement on 2.7, but it really rocks.  Here is the post announcing WordPress 2.8 (check out the video for the highlights) and here are some tips and tricks for using WordPress 2.8.

And because of the new WordPress release, I have fixed up a few things around here.  I disabled WP-Super-Cache (this takes a bit of load off the server by generating static HTML pages instead of querying the database ever page load) because it was messing with the Twitter bar on the right (really old tweets were showing up).  I will likely reenable this is traffic every picks up, but for now the site doesn’t need any caching.

I have also changed the byline of this site (again).  It began as Life in Athens, GA, then switched to Life in Lawrence, KS (when I moved to start grad school), then to Life in Jefferson County, CO (again, when I moved to Colorado).  These were all adequate descriptions of the site, but it needed something more.  WordPress includes that byline in the page title, so it shows up when you search on Google.  So I decided to use a more applicable byline for what I’ve been writing about.  Now the page title (and Google) read Chris M. Lindsey: Technology and Social Media in Public Administration.  I’m not completely sure about this, but hopefully it will last for a while.

Now for the links:

  • This article from the New York Times introduces the country to a 31-year-old Brian Deese, who is a major player in the automotive industry recovery.  Great article, and great job for Brian.  I hope more young people can make it into positions of influence, because I know we can bring a lot to the table.
  • The City of San Francisco is accepting complaints from citizens via Twitter.  I think this is the biggest of all the links, because it shows a city trying to connect with their citizens in the ways they communicate.  And you know what, this probably didn’t take very long or cost much (if any) money to implement.  Here is the Twitter user that is accepting the complaints.  More governments need to be doing this.
  • The New York Times says that smartphones are a necessity.  Especially if you are out of a job (sarcasm).  Seriously, why do jobless people need to be spending the money for a smartphone?
  • Ars Technica reviews the Palm Pre smartphone.  What I find interesting here is the discussion on the second page about having better contact integration.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be syncing (because who wants to have all of their Facebook friends or Gmail contact listings on their cell phone address book), but you should be able to access the contacts on these services.  And search all of them from one place.
  • Time has a great article on whether computer nerds can save old-fashioned journalism.
  • Gina Trapani linked to this great article in the New York Times that profiles Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great.  If you’ve read the book, read this profile.
  • Last but not least, the Athens-Banner Herald covers an Eagle Scout project.  Paul (a fellow Eagle Scout) sent me this link.  Jamie Jackson of Athens went above and beyond the call of Scouting and created a fish habitat from discarded Christmas trees.  The fish habitat is quite needed at Lake Chapman (in Sandy Creek Park, Athens) because of the way the lake was constructed (pretty much all lakes in Georgia were man-made), it cuts down on natural fish habitats.  Way to go, Jamie Jackson!

That’s it for today.  I hope to be writing more as I get into a more regular schedule with work.

Some Random Links

I’ve recently moved out to Colordado (for my job with Jefferson County). Lots of links piled up, and I wanted to share some.

The Wall Street Journal had a great story on how Google uses complex algorithms (imagine that) to project which employees are likely to quit.  Governments are beginning to need to project retirements (really, they have been trying to do this for a while), and a little Google help could go along way.  There are so many factors that go into employees leaving or retiring, some real science would be really helpful.  I’m optimistic.

This story broke while Emily and I were moving, when it was featured on Good Morning America.  Everyone was saying that the Ida fossil was the “missing link”.  I was skeptical after the GMA report and interview, because a long time ago, a good anthropology professor told my class that there is never a “missing link” find.  All finds look to be a missing link because they have never been seen before, but each only adds to our knowledge.  The theory of evolution almost details that there will never be one missing link, because changes are gradual over long periods of time and these are difficult to be found in one fossil.  And then Ars Technica followed up all the hype by detailing the media circus and the long-term damage done to science.

Lastly, ComputerWorld has an excellent article about the advancement in municipal technologies (dubbed “City 2.0”).  Besides the fact that I hate everyone using the 2.0 deal to classify anything as new, there is a lot of good stuff here.  The article talks about new electricity initiatives and technology, the use of social media and social networking in local governments, city-wide wireless internet possibilities, sustainable data centers, and use of the cloud.

This little bit, though, bugs me:

San Jose, Calif., is one of the most high-tech cities in the U.S. Over the next few years, the city will create a social network on Wikiplanning that helps citizens learn about the city, chat over instant messaging, complete surveys and download city podcasts.

What bugs me is that the technology exists to deploy this, for free (see WordPress, BuddyPress, Jabber, etc.), right now.  And it’s easy to do!  A city might need a Linux server, but this can be deployed very quickly.  So why is this going to take years???  You can use these technologies to increase the communication with your citizens and stakeholders right now!

Ok, enough for now, I have to get back to unpacking.

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