Thursday, October 27, 2011

Presenting YouTown - Learning about

In October of 2011, I had the opportunity to assist in a presentation on a mobile app the City of Shawnee is currently testing / deploying for one of our mobile solutions as well as sit in on a meeting about a major website redesign project the City of Oklahoma City has underway. Interesting and informative day.

YouTown App Presentation

The presentation audience were government entities, primarily State Agencies and Libraries, from across Oklahoma attending the annual Oklahoma State Webmanagers Group (OSWG) - See #OSWG hashtag on Twitter or the OSWG Website for more information. Although I did not attend many sessions due to presentation coordination and planning time on site, both Governor Mary Fallin and Oklahoma State CIO Alex Pettit were keynote speakers at the conference.

The presentation went well with DotGov Inc/YouTown's Director of Government Operations Sid Burgess leading off the discussion about the history behind the app, and an overview of the company. Sid has been a local Gov 2.0 advocate in Oklahoma City for several years and was the brains behind the past Oklahoma Gov2.0a (applied) forums that brought in Open Government and social media experts from across the nation for presentations, City Camps, and discussions. Sid is moving to Seattle to open up the first DotGov offices in the United States the end of October 2011. He will be missed greatly by many in the OKC and beyond area.

Derrick Silas, Web Communications Development/Social Media Specialist from Enid continued with their involvement in the YouTown Beta test run, why they chose YouTown and how to setup various features of the app from the dashboard control. Derrick is deeply involved in the re-branding of the City of Enid and their use in Social Media and Mobile access and helped to bring YouTown to the forefront for Oklahoma cities.

I then discussed the news feeds, the ability to repackage existing data from your existing RSS feeds and the mapping options with emphasis on how we at the City of Shawnee are generating dynamic KML maps of all the various data feeds we have such as CAD Calls, nuisance properties, Police Incidents, etc. We appear to be the only YouTown user of the 300+ cities participating in the app that are currently doing this dynamically. However, we are lacking in general GIS maps such as zoning, water and sewer lines, etc as this information needs to come from the proper department in either SHP or KML formats to be utilized.

Although the audience were not City or Town based, DotGov plans to rebrand the app as simply DotGov or DotGov Mobile and market up the layers of government as they have done in other parts of the world. This provides the ability for a single app to aggregate news/events/mapping and service feeds for end users in a single app solution if desired. There are challenges, but acceptance at the City level has surpassed their expectations and projections to date.

If you haven't already, you should download the YouTown app in the App store for Apple devices or the market for Android devices. We will have a story in the Shawnee Outlook Magazine in the near future that will be timed with a press release and official publication of the YouTown app as well as our City of Shawnee Mobile Website.

I did stay and listen to marketing expert Korey Mcmahon from Norman Ok talk about using Social Media to market basically anything. Good session with general discussions of the various channels, motivational information about the possibilities and tools to monitor and use in the Social Media world. Nothing strikingly new based on our past use and experiences at the City of Shawnee but reaffirming if nothing else.

I also had a long lunch and coffee with Sid Burgess discussing the YouTown app, DotGov's future plans, and a City's needs and limitations, resources, etc as well as some technical features behind our data. DotGov is also working towards Open Data standards in government services and data that can allow better data exchange and more transparent government. I was asked to consider future travel to Seattle for a two day brain storming / discussion session to help explore the directions of DotGov and the needs of Cities similar to ours.

Link to a news release we are in:

Oklahoma City Web Site Redesign

While at the OSWG conference I was asked via Twitter by Oklahoma City Creative Manager Zach Nash to attend a public meeting about the redesign project of the Oklahoma City website ( at 6:30pm that evening. Zach was presenting / presiding over the meeting and was looking for input for discussions. I dropped by the meeting to learn more about their process. Unfortunately this particular meeting was very lightly attended with mostly staff from the PIO's office and IT being there. This is a City the size of OKC and that is the participation they get at this point. :-(

Although discussion was limited, it was another good opportunity to talk again with OKC IT and PIO contacts such as Zach and the Director of the Public Information and Marketing department Kristy Yager as well as IT R&D Specialist David Grothe and IT employee Dustin Gabus. The presentation was helpful outlining existing issues and future goals of the OKC marketing department and website as well as their hooks in Social Media. Information on their efforts to collect input to plan the redesign can be found at including their ongoing survey page which may be helpful in the future for our efforts. They are using a wide variety of input options including the survey, public meetings, email, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Wireframing apps as well as old school postal mail. A big outreach effort to insure the direction is what citizens want and /or expect.

Just another day well worth it outside the office…

-Stephen W Nolen