Welcome to Jun, the Town that Ditched Bureaucracy to Run on Twitter
After experimenting with technology to improve civic engagement for more than 10 years, the Mayor of Jun (a municipality located in Granada, Spain) José Antonio Rodríguez Salas has found his answer: Twitter.
Jun is pioneering Twitter as a way of administering its public services, with Salas now encouraging all 3,500 Jun residents to join the social network.
Six hundred residents have registered their Twitter accounts at the town hall so far, with Jun locals increasingly using Twitter to book rooms at the town hall, make doctors appointments or report crimes.
According to Salas: 'efficiencies in cutting bureaucracy have enabled Jun to cut its police force down from four to one officer, who can respond to everything from a car accident to a neighbourly dispute through Twitter.'
He also explains that 'Twitter has created the society of the minute – very quick questions and very quick answers. We now do our paperwork on Twitter'.
There are concerns, however, that some may become disenfranchised if they lack the resources, or simply lack the interest, to engage with social media. Twitter’s chief data scientist and associate MIT professor Deb Roy notes that 'the potential downside is that if we think those who are digitally represented are the only people we have to worry about, then we aren’t thinking about all the people who can’t or won’t. They become invisible. So we need to look holistically at this'. For many communities around the world, convenient and affordable access to devices and internet connectivity is still out of reach.
Roy and his researchers are currently exploring how Jun's model could potentially be scaled up to apply to larger cities, such as Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Boston in the United States.
Thumbnail image: Spencer E Holtaway/Flickr