Sunset over Town Hall
What if government was more social? What if issues or ideas from any hood could be shared online and read and acted on by the Colombo Municipal Council? It could be as simple as a tweet saying ‘these lights are out’ or as complicated as a tracked ticket about a building permit. That would be cool. And I think it’s possible.
Milinda has proposed reviving Colombo’s neighborhood committees. I think that’s great, with one addition. Why not embed a young, digitally trained person (from the hood) on each committee? Why not have each neighborhood updating Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare with their issues, and why not have that data tracked and acted upon from Town Hall?
As Milinda wrote in a FB status update this weekend:
We would also modernize and expand traditional channels of interaction by utilizing available technologies such as sms, and social-networking platforms such as Facebook which our citizens of all ages, but particularly from the younger generation, are becoming increasingly adept at using.
I am confident that digital technologies in tandem with a more open, professionally run, accessible and service-oriented CMC, would enable us to respond better to the needs of Colombo citizens, and foster a culture of cooperation and constructive engagement. For, it is my aim to encourage citizens to get involved again and contribute towards making their City a better place to live for us all.
Personally, I don’t the technology part would be that hard. It’s at any rate more efficient than passing files around. You’d have to train and appoint a young person for each committee, but then they could enter data quite easily I think. These street lights are off, this sewerage system is overflowing, this vacant lot may be breeding dengue mosquitos. I suspect these are the pressing issues, but if you enable basic social networking throughout Colombo, people can discuss whatever they want.
My question for you is, what technology? How would you build such a system? The basic model used in business is that customers already are on FB, Twitter, etc, you just monitor and interact with them there. But can that system be made more structured? For example, getsatisfaction allows consumers to file complaints and plaudits. Could such a system be used for a city?
Would you build an open source solution where each neighborhood has a page where they file tickets, and where those tickets are connected to, say, call center staff in Colombo? Alternately, would you just create Facebook Groups for each hood and monitor them directly? Or, would you have each committee ‘check in’ on Foursquare?
Been thinking about it. What do you think? How can Colombo be socially networked?