Late last month, Managing Director Rich Negrin and Deputy Managing Director Rosetta Carrington Lue highlighted a few of the City of Philadelphia’s most innovative engagement efforts at the ICMA (International City/ County Management Association) Annual Conference in Boston. Negrin and Lue were both invited to speak at the conference: Negrin to speak on the “Leaders, Not Followers” panel and Lue to speak on the “Straight Talk about 311” panel.
The “Leaders, Not Followers” panel focused on the use of social media as a municipal communications tool. The City of Philadelphia is one of nation’s leaders in social and digital communication. During the Managing Director’s presentation, he spoke about Mayor Nutter’s accessibility through Twitter. (The Mayor often receives tweets about neighborhood concerns to which he responds and forwards to the appropriate department.) The Managing Director also had his own experiences of using Twitter for more a more accessible, transparent government. Negrin used his Twitter handle @RichNegrin as a communication vehicle between the City government and the OccupyPhilly camp. This open communication played a role in OccupyPhilly not turning violent unlike other large cities’ Occupy movements.
Among other innovative ways to use Twitter, Negrin highlighted the City’s use of “TweetChats” which facilitated discussions between City officials and citizens about how to improve municipal services. The presentation also featured an educational video from Philly311 which was created as part of the City’s strategy to engage citizens through digital media.
On the “Straight Talk about 311” panel, Rosetta Carrington Lue spoke about how Philadelphia City government connects with citizens. Lue highlighted Philly311’s active social media use. (Citizens can enter a service request via a “tweet” or “comment” to Philly311’s Twitter or Facebook accounts) Lue also spoke about the award-winning Philly311 Mobile App as well as the Neighborhood Liaison Program, a community engagement effort which trains citizens to enter service requests directly into the city’s 311 system.
Near the close of the presentation, Lue shared with the audience a few of Philly311’s plans for to engage citizens in the future. These plans include a Youth Neighborhood Liaison Program as well as a Philly311 talk show.