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What Do Smart Cities of the Future Look Like?

Kristy Dalton at #CES2017

I just returned from the Consumer Electronics Show (#CES2017)  in Las Vegas, and I can tell you that it is a very exciting time for cities and states to invest in smart technologies! The team at Panasonic invited me (aka GovGirl) to cover their exhibit, and I’m thrilled that government agencies were a central part of their “future infrastructure” concept.

Panasonic is known for unveiling consumer technologies at CES, including high end audio and photography equipment. This year, cities took center stage as the company showcased connected technologies designed to improve the quality of life for citizens.

Check out my recap video of what I saw at CES:   

Want to be a #smartcity? It really starts with smart infrastructure. Why have one technology that talks to just one system when you can have connected technologies that integrate with the overall infrastructure?

Panasonic has partnered with the City of Denver over the past year, and recently the Colorado Department of Transportation, to bring the concept of smart cities and smart highways to a reality. Check out footage from the #PanasonicCES press conference, where they invited Mayor Hancock of Denver and the director of the Colorado DOT onstage to unveil their projects.

Have you seen the recent viral dash cam video of a smart car predicting a crash two cars ahead? Think of all the ways smart cars and infrastructure could impact our cities. One of the concepts behind smart transportation is that sensors in vehicles could communicate with other vehicles, pedestrians and the overall smart infrastructure in order to predict and avoid crashes. The number I’m hearing is that traffic accidents could potentially be reduced by 80 percent!

In the Panasonic booth, I got to see other smart city technology up close. Plans for a smart bus shelter are pretty impressive. Government agencies want citizens to use public transportation because it reduces traffic congestion, accidents and smog, among many other reasons. However, public transportation is typically underused. Citizens just don’t have a high expectation of the user experience. Enter the smart bus shelter. While waiting for your bus, you’ve got WiFi, charging outlets and a touch screen display where you can see where your bus is in real-time. If your bus is running late, you can schedule an Uber right from the touch interface. This concept shelter comes equipped with security cameras that are designed to feed into the central command center that gives the city one interface to monitor their connected devices.

Add in smart parking meters that allow citizens to find open spaces and feed the meter via an app, and also smart streetlights that dim to save energy when pedestrians and vehicles aren’t around – and you’ve got a truly connected community!

Here is a Facebook Live video that I shot while visiting the CES exhibit:

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State of Government Social Media: What’s Changed in 2015?

Social Media

This article originally appeared in the “GovGirl on Social” column in Government Technology Magazine.

Delivering a State of the City (or County) address to the public is an annual expectation of elected leadership. It’s their time to talk about major successes and opportunities for their community over the past year. As we look to the end of 2015, what better time to explore the current state of government social media and how it continues to evolve?

SOCIAL NETWORKS EMBRACE GOVERNMENT

It is exciting to see that social networks are beginning to recognize government as both a big player in the game and valuable to their future. Facebook has an internal government team headed by Government Outreach Manager Katie Harbath. Twitter has a large politics team, and LinkedIn is ramping up government efforts as well. In addition, Nextdoor, the private social network for neighborhoods, has invested in a major product dedicated to helping governments interact with their communities called Nextdoor for Public Agencies.

WHO MANAGES SOCIAL MEDIA?

As social media is now mainstream for most public-sector entities, it’s interesting to note what roles are involved in managing the platforms on the agency’s behalf. In 2015, it is still not the norm to have full-time staff members with titles such as “social media manager” or “social media coordinator,” although we’re seeing it happen more often than in previous years. What we do see are roles like “public information officer” or program managers encompassing more and more social media responsibilities.

PLATFORM EXPERIMENTATION

While governments continue to struggle with the sheer number of social platforms and trying to determine where best to spend time and energy, many entities are on board for experimentation. Snapchat is now being embraced by various agencies like Las Vegas, the Utah Division of Emergency Management and the White House. And several agencies are now experimenting with live-streaming apps such as Meerkat, Periscope and Facebook Mentions.

CITIZEN EXPECTATIONS ARE SHIFTING

Citizens now not only assume that government will be on social platforms, but also expect quick response times. The average person now looks to social media as a satisfactory outlet for complaining or requesting customer service. Agencies are struggling with how to handle social media inquiries during nonbusiness hours.

LAW ENFORCEMENT PERCEPTION CHALLENGES

In 2015, law enforcement in particular has been plagued with negative perception challenges, offline and online. There has never been a more valuable time to understand the nuances of embracing tone and managing citizen satisfaction on social media. New live-streaming apps also have caused challenges for public safety entities. On the one hand, they allow officers to share real-time updates. On the flip side, these platforms have many implications for the safety of officers and the public during real-time, unfolding events where the apps could inform fugitives of law enforcement’s next move.

WHAT’S NEXT?

As we look to 2016, it’s becoming more acceptable to not only spend ad dollars on social media campaigns, but also to hire staff members specifically for the purpose of managing social media profiles. Public agencies are digging deeper into analytics to ensure best practices, prove value to agency leadership and determine whether to continue on current platforms or redirect efforts to new ones.

Over the next year, a couple of government-related social media associations are slated to launch. This is an exciting step toward encouraging a strong learning network for public-sector social media managers.

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An Event for Government Social Media Managers

GSMCON

Are you responsible for maintaining any social media profiles for your agency? You don’t have to learn about best practices on your own anymore. Come to GSMCON2016 and collaborate with a network of local and state government social media managers.

Our company founded the Government Social Media Conference & Expo in 2015, and we’re gearing up to host the second annual event from April 6-8, 2016, in Reno, Nevada. It’s the only major event designed for U.S. city, county and state government (all those federal, international, military, education, etc., are welcome as well).

Speakers from Facebook, Nextdoor, Hootsuite and more will be returning in 2016. GSMCON features general sessions, concurrent breakout sessions and interactive PowerTalk discussions. Attendees collaborate and learn strategy and techniques to maximize social media programs to bring value to citizens!

Sound good? See the GSMCON website and we hope to see you in Reno in 2016.

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Government Humor Strategy on Social Media – What Works

Dog in sunglasses

Humor coming from a government agency has the capability to skyrocket engagement or go up in flames causing a PR nightmare. If you run a government social media page, you are well aware of the struggle to obtain followers and boost engagement. Many of us are tempted to experiment with humor, but could there be a strategy for government humor on social media?

We hosted a discussion on this topic on June 18, during our #GSMCHAT bi-weekly Twitter chat. Several local and state agency representatives from all over the United States joined in sharing their ideas and experiences with each other. While some admitted a hesitance toward humor, the majority enjoys joking with their followers.  

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Attend the Government Social Media Conference

Registration is now open for the first annual Government Social Media Conference & Expo (GSMCON), taking place in Reno, Nevada from April 29 – May 1, 2015. Unlike all other national social media conferences, GSMCON was created specifically for those whose work involves social media management for government entities rather than the corporate world.

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Nextdoor Social Network Now Available for Public Agencies

Nextdoor App

Nextdoor.com announced the launch of “Nextdoor for Public Agencies” today (which is by no coincidence the National PrepareAthon! Day of Action).

The average Joe uses the Nextdoor social network to connect with their neighbors about local issues. It is a closed network only open to the people who live in each neighborhood. But with today’s announcement, public agencies across the United States will be able to tap in to the platform to connect with citizens and address hyperlocal issues and concerns. The application to police and public safety communications alone could make Nextdoor a game-changer.

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6 Tips for Unlikable Government Agencies on Social Media

Unhappy passenger

Humane societies and lottery commissions have it easy on social media. Everyone likes to see pictures of cute puppies for adoption and lucky citizens holding oversized checks!

Most government agencies don’t have social media ‘likes’ served to them on a silver platter – but what about the agencies with the hardest time on social media because they run services that people don’t care for? There are always exceptions, but people generally don’t have a great love for DMVs, unemployment offices, tax assessors, etc.

There are several ways to approach social media if you are one of these agencies, and here are six tips to get you started!

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5 Steps to Creating Awesome Social Media Content for Government (with no time or team!)

Hundreds of government employees tuned into a webinar on July 8 focused on how to create content for social media (with a focus on doing it quickly, yet strategically).

I hosted the webinar, and I have a theory on why it was so popular. Although there are a lot of introductory social media webinars out there (I’ve hosted them myself!), no one is really focusing on ‘content strategy’ for local government in a big way. Nearly everyone recognizes the value of social media in the public sector, but how do we get the most bang for our buck with our limited resources?

Watch the webinar replay here and weigh in on the conversation with your own ideas!

Webinar Replay

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Changing Your Name on Social Media

LOTR wedding

I recently got married (in an awesomely nerdy LOTR* themed wedding) and changed my last name from Fifelski to my husband’s last name, Dalton. Legally changing your name and dealing with altering it on your driver’s license, passport, debit cards, online billing, etc. is quite a process. However, this process was equaled in tediousness when it came to changing my digital footprint on social media.