THUNDER BAY – Demonstrating the growing power of the Internet and Social Networking, the Japanese city Takeo-shi has gone ‘Facebook’. The city of 51,000 residents has shifted its Internet website over to Facebook. The cost was about $8200.00US. There are 8270 people on the page getting regular updates on Facebook about what is happening in their community ( http://www.facebook.com/takeocity?sk=wall). One of the reasons that Takeo-shi chose Facebook was that in order to comment, users must be registered. The community tried some of the more popular social networking sites in Japan, but those networks allow comments to be posted without the person sharing who they are. Anonymous social networks are reportedly very popular in Japan.
Takeo-shi decided that Facebook offered the best combination of open discussion and responsibility.
Increasingly, governments, and government agencies are finding expanded use of the Internet to be an effective tool for communications. The choice for government is changing to evolve with the times. Take Thunder Bay for example, a full 79% of our residents, according to Statistics Canada have access to the Internet.
City Hall has made strides forward, Council meetings are now streamed online, there are Facebook pages, and the City has started engaging with video live-streaming for public events. There are, in our community, positive moves into the future. Could the city do more? Certainly, voter turnout is telling us that fewer and fewer people are engaged with the political process.
At a TEDX event in Toronto, Dave Meslin presented a talk on apathy. Here is the description of the video, “Local politics — schools, zoning, council elections — hit us where we live. So why don’t more of us actually get involved? Is it apathy? Dave Meslin says no. He identifies 7 barriers that keep us from taking part in our communities, even when we truly care”.
The effort to impact change is one that many are discussing world-wide right now. The Occupy Wall Street movement of the past month, has illustrated a desire for change, however for the most part, depending on where the protests are happening, there is no single direction being shown.
Part of the issue may simply be that community leaders, following traditional means of communication and engagement are failing to reach citizens. Some of that is because of old legislation, and some from old ideas that hang on over and over again. Following familiar paths is not a way to blaze a bold trail forward into the future.
Thunder Bay has demonstrated a willingness to embrace some of the new ideas of the future. Likely becoming increasingly innovative, and creative, over coming months and years is going to be needed even more.
Embrace Change and Engagement will Follow!
Chief Content Officer