Citizen Engagement Isn't ''One Size Fits All''
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Citizen Engagement Isn't ''One Size Fits All''

By Shannon Wiggins, Public Information Officer, City of East Point

Shannon Wiggins, Public Information Officer, City of East Point

The integration of information technology and communication is crucial for municipalities to successfully engage with residents. Communication is at the forefront of the customer service that we provide to more than 35,000 residents in the City of East Point. East Point is a hidden gem nestled in between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Downtown Atlanta. It is a thriving and diverse community seeking constant information about upcoming events, utility services, volunteer opportunities and more. We owe it to our residents to be transparent, engaging, and progressive while using technology and communication to exceed those standards.

The City’s Access East Point app has been a great tool for citizen engagement. Using SeeClickFix technology, this customizable 311 app allows residents to report non-emergency situations to the City such as litter, potholes, code enforcement, park maintenance, fallen tree limbs and more. Using their mobile device, residents can download this free app to snap a picture of their complaint, provide a description of the issue and its location to the City. Within minutes, City officials in their respective departments are notified immediately of the complaint and its location. They are to acknowledge to the resident that they’ve received the complaint and that it has been resolved. SeeClickFix also has a “Notices” feature that gives me the capability to deliver information about upcoming events, power outages or water main breaks to the public via email and the mobile app to residents who subscribe to the platform. When emergencies occur, the “Notices” feature is used along with CodeRED, a notification system designed to alert residents of immediate or pending dangers or threats. Residents can register their phone numbers or email address through CodeRED to receive weather warnings from the City.

Social media is one of our strongest communication platforms because it allows us to be more accessible to our residents and vice versa. Our Communications Office utilizes Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to engage with residents. We make a conscious effort to post at least three times a day. Uploading videos and surveys on our social media platforms has increased the number of followers that we have. Using a video broadcasting device from Livestream, we can broadcast our city council meetings live on Facebook and see real time feedback or questions from residents. Our live broadcast can also be found on our website in conjunction with vimeo/ livestream. In addition to our council meetings, all of the video content that we produce can also be viewed 24/7 on our Government Access Station, known as EPTV-22, on Comcast and YouTube.

My role as the Public Information Officer is to also ensure that communication is reaching our residents who are not on the internet, particularly our Senior Citizens. Our newsletter, The VERGE, is inserted into the utility bills at our Customer Care facility. I make a conscious effort to establish positive relationships with the news media. My office also takes advantage of passing out flyers and contact information to residents at our numerous festivals, concerts, town hall meetings and health expos. I’ve also spoken at several neighborhood association meetings. These grassroots efforts help residents to understand that their voices are being heard and that they are not forgotten. It is my duty to make sure no one feels left out.

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