The KUPMC Blog

Resources to support the work of public sector professionals

Tech Tools: 311 Lenexa

January 30th, 2013 by KU PMC

By Katy Crow, City of Lenexa Community Engagement Coordinator

The City of Lenexa has created an easier way for residents to report everything from damaged road signs to potholes to improper signal timing to code requests, with the introduction of their new mobile app “Lenexa 311.” The system allows for real time status updates on requests and also allows citizens to view the status of requests sent by other residents.

The app, developed by Lenexa’s own staff, received the prestigious “ImpacT Award” from The Kansas City Business Journal in the client interface category. By developing the app in-house, rather than using an outside firm, service requests from citizens are directly transferred to an internal database – allowing for real time status updates. At this time, the app is available through the Apple iTunes store at Lenexa 311 will be available on other mobile devices next spring.

What are ways that other public organizations are using technology to engage with their communities? What tips about apps and/or tricks in common applications do you know of that can help technology work for us in our busy lives?

Twitter: a stand-in for opinion polls?

May 12th, 2010 by KU PMC

Check out this CNN story about a study by Carnegie Melon University indicating that “sentiments expressed via the millions of daily tweets strongly correlate with well-established public opinion polls, such as the Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) and Gallup polls.”

The full report of the study hasn’t been released yet, but it’s interesting to think that the twitter comments about a city or other government agency might be a reasonable representation of the views on an issue.

3 Things to Understand About Social Media as a “Communication Channel” for Governments

April 22nd, 2010 by Noel Rasor

Many experienced public sector managers recognize that there’s something important in all the hype about Facebook and Twitter and the need for agencies and governments to embrace their use. But, for those who are not users of social media themselves, it can be a struggle to understand exactly why it matters as much as it seems to.

Fortunately, The Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania recently published a fabulously thoughtful and interesting report on social media and local government that offers as good an explanation as I’ve ever seen about what social media do that’s different that might help you or others in your agency truly get your brain around the value of Facebook and Twitter.

A very useful suggestion is that we should stop worrying about making sense of terms like “web 2.0″ and instead think of social media as communications channels that have “a different set of rules and habits than traditional types of news and broadcast media.” From here the report outlines three points that are at the heart of these different rules and habits.

1) Social media are typically interactive rather than authoritative. Social media like Facebook and Twitter facilitate conversations rather than one-way announcements. Much of the value is provided by users who respond and recommend them, often in near real-time. A city’s Facebook post about bad potholes after a winter storm, for example, might be enhanced by user comments that detail where, exactly, the worst ones are so that other drivers can watch out and so that the city knows to fix them.

2) Social media are personal rather than institutional. Users exercise great discretion over their personal “channel”,
subscribing to only the information they want and ignoring the rest.

3) Social media tend to “narrowcast” through networks rather than broadcast. The Fel Report notes that even a large government social media audience is small by the standards of radio or television broadcasts (the City of Topeka, for example, has 120,000 residents and only 550 followers on Twitter). But, importantly, “social media facilitate a more voluntary, interactive, and symmetrical relationship between an agency and its audience, and the right message can travel extremely quickly through these networks to the general public.”

Far more quickly, it should be noted, than an announcement posted on a city’s website. A “tweet” or a Facebook update is pushed out to interested users who, if they find it relevant or worthwhile, will “share” it with their friends or followers on these sites, some of whom may then share it with theirs. This is in stark contrast with an announcement to an agency website that will only be found by those who happen to visit the website while the announcement is posted.

This also contrasts with “e-government” portal sites for the same reason: users are required to visit the portal in order for it to be useful. With social media sites, however, I get updates from my city as I catch up on new photos posted by my sister and what’s happening with my friends from college.

For professionals used to drawing a pretty thick line between their personal, professional, and public lives, this can be a new and peculiar concept. For many of the citizens you’re hoping to engage, however, nothing could be more natural. And it’s this fact that makes social media so important as a communication channel.

What benefits has your organization seen from using social media?

Making Sense of Millennials in the Workplace, part I

April 9th, 2010 by KU PMC

With as many Millennials–born 1980 to 2000–in the U.S. population as Baby Boomers, the American workplace is undergoing a significant demographic shift.

While talk of the differences among the generations can be overblown, there are indeed some new ideas, beliefs and practices making their way into our offices as this younger generation grows in representation. The public sector organizations that best understand the characteristics that set the Millennials apart from their elders will be best positioned to compete for the top talent in this age group.

A couple of recent posts on the Harvard Business Review blog offer thoughtful analysis on the much maligned work ethic of the Millennials and of the necessity for organizations to rethink their social media policies if they are to attract the best and brightest in this group.

Both posts suggest that Millennials challenge the hard separation between work time and free time that has typified previous generations’ approaches to task management. While many assume that this means they’re more prone to use work time for non-work purposes, in fact their willingness to use non-work time (hours outside of 8am-5pm) to complete work tasks may be more pronounced.

What is your organization doing to ensure that you are ready to welcome the contributions of Millennials?

Follow us on Twitter!

March 18th, 2010 by KU PMC

KUPMC is now on Twitter! Find us at

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