Throughout the semester, we have seen firsthand the power of social media and the many ways to effectively use different platforms. Well… here’s another example of how a group of people is using Twitter in a unique way.
In southern Spain, there is a small town called Jun (pronounced “hoon”) who is using Twitter as the official medium for all citizen-government communication. The town, with little more than 3,000 residents, has been using the platform in significant way since 2011. The town’s mayor Jose Antonio Rodriguez Salas is extremely active on the site and has preached for years about the influence and power technology can have.
The first and most basic way the town uses the service is to communicate questions, concerns, and requests. In this example (translated to english), a citizen tells the mayor that a street light in town is out.
The mayor responds only nine minutes later and mentions the repair man
who then tweets the next day when the problem is solved.
In Jun, this is how things get done… every day. City Hall even has its own system to verify citizens Twitter accounts so that the government knows that they are dealing with actual town residents. According to the mayor, the town has been able to save both time and money by switching to Twitter. With the relatively low traffic, one person can reply to Tweets from the comfort of… anywhere really. Town meetings are live-streamed and a screen at the meeting projects tweets from citizens who would like to chime in. The uses don’t even stop there! Booking appointments, following local youth teams, promoting social events are all officially accepted by every local business.
This concept may not be totally feasible in a big city such as New York but it’s a clear showing of the digital direction we are going as a society. Are we heading to a time where you can “text message” anyone or anything? Any business, any citizen, any emergency service can be an immediate real-time conversation away. As city populations rise into the millions, you’d obviously need more personnel dedicated to responding but I don’t think it would be anything more than what our human race will be doing anyway (looking down at a smart phone 24 hours a day).
Whether it’s a small scale model of the future humans will one day know as normal or just an isolated phenomenon, it’s certainly an intriguing look into a unique way social media can be integrated and adopted by any group of people in an innovative way. If you want to feel connected to the people of Jun, you too can follow Mayor Jose Antonio or their lone (!) police officer or even the town’s street sweeper.