Over the last few years Catawba County has implemented many different ways for citizens to receive information and interact with us. I titled this Social Media because that term is recognized by everyone on the web. It would be more appropriate to title it “Citizen Interaction with Catawba County” or just “Communicating” . And note that this is possible using the Web 2.0 tools that make social media so popular today. This article will take you through the different tools and media available, as well as, provide links to the resources.
As we look at these different tools, we hope we have provided ways for citizens to interact with government that goes far beyond the methods of the past and that they find it easier to get information; communicate their thoughts, ideas, and concerns ; and conduct business with us.
The tour starts with our newly redesigned homepage http://www.catawbacountync.gov/ . You will note larger pictures, a new “Did You Know?” section and a consolidation of links from the previous homepage. Popular pages like Online Deed Search, Real Estate Maps, and Who’s in Jail can be found quickly under Quick Links along with several tools for citizens like Community Alert System, Online Payments, and Street Sign Repair reporting. In the upper right corner you will find a group of small icons. They represent links to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, Foursquare, RSS feeds, Blogs. More on each of these later. The last two represent Ask a Question and Idea Box.
Facebook was the first social media site we began using. Originally designed to hit the 18 to 44 year old audience, it now has an audience that spans beyond that targeted group. Today it has over 2100 followers, or in Facebook terms, people who “Like This”. The Catawba County Facebook page contains feeds from a number of other sources and can be relied upon to have the latest information and stories.
Twitter was the next tool deployed. The main Twitter site, CatawbaCounty receives tweets from our news articles and from a number of our blog sites. Again this is a good source for the latest information and it can be delivered to your Twitter account, your email account or a number of devices like your phone. Catawba County has three other Twitter sites CatCoEM, Catawba911 and CatCoPurchasing. CatCoEM is our Emergency Management feed. It has the latest information about potential weather threats, helpful information about what to do in an emergency, and a constant flow of updates when we do have an incident. Catawba911 tweets any traffic related incidents in the county. This is very helpful when planning the routes for your errands. CatCoPurchasing tweets all of the bid requests making it easy for vendors to track and bid on products and services needed by the county. They also tweet surplus property to be sold. Follow them and you may pick up a bargain.
We all love YouTube. Catawba County’s YouTube site has a number of great videos with some very useful information. This ranges from information about the Commissioners meetings, to recycling, to health information and more. Check it out!
The county has six blog sites. These are the eNewsletter which users can subscribe to, the Legislative Update, the Library Newsletter, Catawba County Parks, Catawba County Public Service Announcements, and my CIO Blog. The eNewsletter contains the latest information about meetings and happening in Catawba County. By subscribing to it, citizens can receive information about proposed changes and events delivered right to their email. All of the blogs contain great information so let me hit upon some highlights. Check out the Legislative Update Blog to get info on what’s happening in the legislature, Catawba County’s position on bills and the potential impact that a bill may have on you and the county. The Library Newsletter can guide you to the latest books, workshops and events. Check out the Parks Blog if for no other reason than the photos. Blair Rayfield, the Park Manager, takes great pictures of the changing seasons. There is also info about park hours and events. The PSA blog from Catawba County Sheriff’s Department keeps you informed about the latest scams and cons. Use this to keep you and your loved ones safe. And finally if you are reading this, you have already found the CIO Blog. Thank you for following.
Location based software is the new kid on the block. Smartphones with built in GPS technology offer a world of opportunity. Information can be viewed based on what is nearby. Catawba County’s Foursquare site offers that type of service for government services. Using Foursquare citizens can find information about parks, theaters, the animal shelter, historical sites and more. Check this out for tips about nearby locations.
I will end this blog with some Smartphone tools designed for contractors. Catawba County is using Web 2.0 technology to make it easier for contractors to access information in the field. One of the most popular is the inspection reports. Contractors can access these straight from their Smartphones. Here are the links to the available services:
Android and Blackberry Storm Friendly Links
Permit Parcel Search Report
Permit Detail Report
Inspection Assignment Tracking Report
Blackberry (pre storm) and Android Friendly Link
Inspection Assignment Tracking Report
As you can see, Catawba County offers several ways for citizens to interact with government. We will continue to work to make access better and easier as new tools and opportunities become available. We are always open to suggestions and welcome your ideas for improving existing services and for new services that you would like to see implemented.