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Local Government: Maryland and New York Using Social Media to Provide Better Public Management to its Residents

 
エネルギーCO2削減 2011年10月4日

Rapid Access International, Inc.

July 2011

http://www.rapidaccess.com/

Background:

The State of Maryland has been very successful in using Facebook to provide its residents with up-to- date information on city services, crime tracking, street maintenance, healthcare, and many other topics of importance. Social media is being used in new ways to allow the residents of Maryland to connect with their government directly in a public media format so others can observe and comment on important issues. In addition, graphical information such as maps depicting places where crime occurs or where traffic congestion is the heaviest are also available. The governor can talk to residents of his state through video links and Maryland residents can also attend meetings in City Hall in a “virtual environment” by logging into Facebook.

The URL for the State of Maryland StateStat program on Facebook is:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maryland-StateStat/127389210632219

New York City with its CompStat program, the State of Washington, and cities like Baltimore with its famed CitiStat program -- are able to collect data and assemble this data for analysis using software tools to help with government management decisions. This data and analysis in real time is brought to state and local government meetings with advanced computer modeling and reporting to allow each state agency to measure performance. These meetings bring every major decision maker from the state or city government into a room to solve problems in real time in a collaborative environment. Now the residents of each state or city with these types of programs can access their government through participation on social media networks such as Facebook.

These meetings and programs have the attention of the highest state officials -- up to and including the governor. In the State of Maryland, Governor O'Malley appears at the StateStat meetings in person and as a result, state agency managers also show up to the meeting well prepared. The StateStat program has been very successful and is a model for other states to follow. Leadership involves both data and decisions. The volume of data can be overwhelming, while leadership is in short supply. StateStat brings leadership and data together in a positive environment to measure government performance and obtain immediate results for the state or city residents.

StateStat is a model for moving forward on any set of goals. By combining solid performance data with consistent, in-person leadership, StateStat meetings combine data plus humans, which makes for a very productive process.

The Opportunity for State and Local Governments

With the availability of new tools like Facebook to aid in connecting residents and citizens with their government, there is more transparency and also efficiency in running government programs. Typical types of information the resident of a city or state can access through Facebook include:

  • Virtual attendance in government meetings through connection by video and audio.
  • Ability by the residents to make comments directly online to their public officials.
  • Ability to track crime or illegal activity throughout the city or state using online maps and visual aids.
  • Delivery of news and public announcements by the state or city directly to the residents through email alerts and Facebook updates.
  • Ability to track stimulus spending by the government and verify how those funds are actually creating jobs within the city or state.
  • Track environmental issues such as local programs for environmental protection, river and bay cleanup, energy use, recycling and other “green” issues.

In States like Washington and Maryland, stimulus spending (government funds used for the stimulus of the economy through road and bridge building and repair, installation of “green” energy infrastructure (solar panels, smart meters, wind turbines, etc.)) is a major area of interest by the residents of those states. Maryland has connected its tracking of stimulus dollars to other performance reporting mechanisms within the state budget. Maryland also has a specific website dedicated to the tracking of stimulus funding within the State of Maryland. Tracking of stimulus funding has been linked to performance information available through StateStat.

In our interviews with staff at the StateStat office in Maryland, we found that StateStat is very important to Governor O'Malley and he has begun to introduce the success of Maryland to other states in the hope of making Government more transparent to all citizens within the US. According to StateStat staff: “We want to use this information so we can make the right choices of where to spend the money and we want to use the data on a management level. We measure how quickly our contracts are going out to bid and we’re looking at the percentage of minority business enterprises that are getting our Recovery Act contracts. We’re not relenting on that. We have a goal of 25 percent.” So StateStat is also measuring the demographics of state government contracts and who is receiving the funds for recovery of the economy.

Another key area is “weatherization” and how to make homes in the city or state more energy efficient. This is also being tracked by the state government and reported on Facebook. The State of Maryland hopes to inspire its residents to save energy and install energy efficient features in their homes in order to lower overall utility costs and energy consumption within the state. In this way the state’s energy costs will go down when individual utility costs drop. Maryland is also tracking the number of people who are going through weatherization training, so they can work in those jobs for the installation of energy efficient features in homes and businesses across the state.

Technology Used

For the mapping of data based on geographic location and real time reporting for StateStat and CompStat, the States of Maryland and New York are working with ESRI, a company that specializes in geographic information systems. The agreement with ESRI is that any tools created in support of State Stat and CompStat are to be shared with other states. ESRI has confirmed to us in an interview that over 20 other states are working with ESRI to develop the exact same maps and programs as used in Maryland and New York. Massachusetts and Texas are also working on new programs with similar features to Maryland.

Challenges

The cost of building a StateStat program is not that expensive since much of the software and design is now being built upon the earlier success of New York and Maryland. ESRI is also sharing the cost with the local and state governments. The use of Facebook as an instrument to disseminate information to the public is also reasonable. The main costs are the physical hardware used (visual screens, projectors, computer networks, servers, routers, etc.) to set up the system. In Maryland there is a room in the Capitol that is dedicated to StateStat meetings and there are cameras and projectors all over the room to deliver the meetings live to the public through Facebook and other media distribution outlets.

In the next few years, a large number of US States will build performance measurement systems similar to Maryland and use new media tools such as Facebook to gain access to the public and the residents of cities and state. Facebook in cooperation with ESRI and other companies is building a new model for transparent and efficient government.

株式会社三菱総合研究所理事長 小宮山宏

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