Thursday, July 18, 2013
Wichita city leaders say they've figured out the key to citizen involvement is social media.
The city has held two social media town halls this summer, where they monitor and respond to online comments on topics like street maintenance. Based on those comments, they city actually redrafted some of their budget proposals.
Traditionally, if you want to weigh in on the city's budget you have to drive downtown to one of the morning meetings. Last week, nobody showed up to speak at the city council meeting.
The city tried a new approach called a social media town hall. People can voice their opinions wherever and whenever they want.
“Well it allows citizens to interact with us on their schedule and whey they feel like it on Facebook and Twitter,” City Budget Officer Mark Manning said.
During the two social media meetings, they had a total of 59,000 views on their Facebook page. They also had more than 600 comments and more than 900 likes.
“That is a tremendous amount of feedback, more than we've received through traditional means,” Manning said.
The feedback has actually encouraged city leaders to change the budget. Two of the items posted on their Facebook page were eliminating the Wichita Police Department's mounted unit and grounding their helicopter. After getting hundreds of comments, most of them in favor of keeping both police units, the city decided to keep them in their budget.