Thursday, December 4, 2008

Twittering Away Local Government


How should a local government use Twitter, the micro blogging service that has gained so much popularity? Should it be 1.0 broadcast only? Should it be totally 2.0 interactive or should it be somewhere in the middle? Or should Twitter even be in the mix for local governments?

Some time ago I setup a simple Twitter account for the local government I work for to use as a test for keeping people up to date without them having to check our RSS feed, sign up for a notification system, or visit our site. Right now it is a test, no publicity, no front page story, just testing the waters. The @CityofShawneeOK account picked up a few followers just based on our location but we haven't done much with the account yet. The long(er) term plan is to use the account for notifications when formal meeting Agendas and Minutes are posted, when local news is updated on the main website or when general information needs to be sent out to concerned citizens.

More recently I added some code to an internal notification program I wrote that is used to update key people inside our local government via email, when certain types of Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) or 9-1-1 calls come in, to allow posting to a Twitter account. The accounts @ShawneePD and @ShawneeFD push out certain Police and Fire related calls and updates. This is basically the same process used at the Charlette NC South police department. My solutions builds on the CADCOM (Computer Aided Dispatch COMmunicator) program I build a few years ago but never fully implemented.

Then I read THIS ARTICLE and now I question the initial concept, or at least the total concept. Obviously push only is not what Twitter is necessarily about, although it is often used that way. I like to see the activity come up in my Twitter window better than email and I can easily determine if mobile notifications are desired through my Twitter profile setup for those accounts.

However, my current concept seems to break all the rules of Top 5 Ways to Screw up your Corp Twitter account so is the solution useful at all?

Comments anyone - Should we Twitter away Local Government or not?

What else in a local government could Twitter be used for?
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