Catherine Shinners at work (Cisco office, Madison, WI, Sept 19, 2012)
My friend and colleague, Catherine Shinners, blogged from the E2 Conference here in Boston last week, and captured these very interesting details about the City of Boston's e-efforts. Here she reports on Boston CIO Bill Oates's presentation on the city's Citizens Connect service/app, which has turned complaining into cooperation. Laurianne McGlaughlin, Editor in Chief at Information Week, also presented in the same session. Here's a bit of Catherine's report, which focuses on how the city mined social media during the week of the Marathon bombing:
Social media was used extensively to outreach to the community especially around the Shelter in Place period [my city, Newton, was one of those on lockdown, which I reported on throughout the day on Facebook]. He noted that after 9-11 there was lost of investment interoperability of radio for public safety services. And with social media, there's need for increased broadband public safety network capacity as people share more data, photos, videos, voice content. The city's call center typically will handle 8-900 calls per day but handled over 10,000 calls the day of the marathon bombing.
Last year the city created a social media strategist position (it has upwards of 40+ social media accounts). Oates highlighted how the city was part of the social media conversation during that week with the Boston Police Department having 48 million impressions that week
The city is also improving its understanding and sentiment analysis around events that happen in the city - celebrations, community gatherings as well as emergencies
Another innovation at the city has been the Office of New Urban Mechanics [my post on these guys here] so named because Mayor Tom Menino had been called the urban mechanic when he first got elected. It's situated right next to the mayor's office and functions as an open door to city hall. Citizens have place to pitched their ideas, and the office helps creates a pipeline o f innovative opportunities. They use it to create applications, solutions and new projects, One project Technology for Autism Now (TAN) was catalyzed by a mother of an autistic child, and utilizes tablet-based tools and the city partnered with a couple of local public schools to develop it.