Twitter, along with countless other social media websites, is often viewed as a productivity killer. But a small town in Spain has actually been using the platform to improve communication between authorities and the people. In fact, Twitter is so important to the people of Jun that they actually built a monument of the iconic ‘blue bird’ in the town’s square.
Since September 2011, the 3,500-strong community has used Twitter to spread local news, developments, job opportunities, orbituaries, and even school dinner menus! Residents book doctor’s appointments, register consumer complaints, and report crimes through their tweets. Jun’s Mayor, José Antonio Rodriguez Salas, has his own account, with a massive following of over 340,000. Locals can contact the Mayor by tweeting him directly.
All the town’s public services, including the police force, have their own Twitter accounts. The force, consisting of only one officer, drives a squad car with ‘@PoliciaJun’ painted on the bonnet. In fact, the bird logo can be seen everywhere, including the Mayor’s office. Even the guy who sweeps the streets tweets amusing messages, with before and after shots of his handiwork. The town’s elderly aren’t ignored either – there’s a special program in place to teach them how to use the internet and social media.
The town’s unique communication strategy has caught the attention of the world, so much so that researchers from MIT’s Media Lab are now conducting studies in Jun. According to The Independent, they’re trying to find out if social networking holds the key to improved public services in larger cities.