The social media enthusiast that I am, I started wondering about how to continue improving constituent connections over the next five years here in wild, wonderful West Virginia. Yes, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, MeetUp, etc... all play a significant role, but there is something even bigger I believe we need to focus more efforts on: mobile government.
Also called mGovernment, mobile government is an extension of online government connections to mobile platforms and the tactical use of these applications which are only possible using mobile phones, iPads, laptops, and any other devices that utilize wireless infrastructure. mGovernment can assist with making public information and other governmental services available to citizens anytime, any place, and the ubiquity of mobile devices mandates their employment in government functions, e.g. a mass text in an emergency, like a gas leak. However, several government agencies and public sector organizations are hesitant to adopt mGovernment. Why? Because experimenting with these technologies in the public sector is far more risky than the private sector.
mGovernment’s main benefit is how the immediacy and convenience reduce the bureaucratic red tape and other public service barriers, therefore motivating more citizens to connect with their elected officials and other government agencies. Several additional benefits of mGovernment include; overall cost reduction in communications, improved efficiency, the modernization of public sector organizations, and the general improvement in citizen services. For example, the Bangladesh government text messages warning to its citizens in regard to natural disasters. Parking systems and improved communications between homes and the school systems are being utilized in Estonia.
Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker is the number one politician, in my opinion, who takes advantage of mGovernment. In a TIME magazine article today, “Booker’s twitter feed reads like an action novel.”
“When Booker first started tweeting a few years ago, some older Newark residents complained that his online obsession was a narcissistic waste of time. And while it's fair to wonder if all those unplowed Newark streets serve as an indictment of his administration, it's hard to knock his Twitter habit now. The media-savvy Booker knows his Twitter transparency is winning political points.”
So where do we stand in West Virginia in regard to mGovernment?
We have 5 iPhone Apps, including; WV Newsline, WV Political Contributions, WV Legislative Live Bills Feed, WV Business Records, and LegislateWV. And one iPad App, WV.gov Mobile. Politicians and public sector organizations are increasing their use on social media vehicles that can be accessed through mobile devices. The Kanawha County Commission is becoming increasingly more visible on two mobile platforms: Twitter and Facebook.
But what’s to come? I spoke with Senator Truman Chafin’s secretary (and amazing fashionista), Kayla Brown, who had the most brilliant idea thus far. When legislators open their laptops (which the Senate still desperately needs in my opinion), when they clicked on the internet, their home screen would be an aggregate of all online media and social tools: a Twitter stream of constituents they could communicate with, an RSS feed reader of local, state, and national news headlines of interest, their schedule that day, Facebook feed, etc... Now I know that’s pretty forward thinking, but this Politico in Stilettos loved the idea, especially since broadband infrastructure accessed is increasing across the state more rapidly than ever. What do you think?