The Spanish Town That Runs on Twitter

Spain — when José Antonio Rodríguez Salas’s daughter, Martina, turned into born in April, he — like many proud new dad and mom — grew to become to social media to proportion the information.

however Mr. Rodríguez Salas, the mayor of Jun, a small city nestled inside the foothills outside Granada in southern Spain, did no longer put up a message via his personal Twitter account. alternatively, he wrote a quick message from @martinajun, a Twitter account he had created for his new child, pronouncing, “I’ve just been born.”
To Mr. Rodríguez Salas’s extra than four hundred,000 fans at the social network, his moves came as no surprise. that is because the Spanish politician has spent a whole lot of the closing 5 years turning Jun (said hoon), whose populace slightly tops 3,500, into one of the most lively users of Twitter anywhere within the global.

For the town’s residents, greater than 1/2 of whom have Twitter money owed, their fundamental way to speak with nearby government officers is now the social community. need to peer the nearby health practitioner? ship a quick Twitter message to e book an appointment. See something suspicious? allow Jun’s policeman understand with a tweet.

human beings in Jun can nonetheless use conventional methods, like completing paperwork on the city hall, to acquire public services. but Mr. Rodríguez Salas said that by jogging maximum of Jun’s communications thru Twitter, he now not only has shaved on average thirteen percentage, or round $380,000, from the local price range every 12 months seeing that 2011, however he also has created a digital democracy in which residents engage on-line almost day by day with city officers.

“every body can talk to anyone else, every time they want,” stated Mr. Rodríguez Salas in his office surrounded by means of Twitter paraphernalia, even as wearing a wristband emblazoned with #LoveTwitter. “we’re on Twitter due to the fact that’s where the human beings are.”

at the same time as politicians like President Obama and Narendra Modi, India’s high minister, often send messages on Twitter to their thousands and thousands of followers, Jun’s use of the social community is some thing exclusive.

by way of incorporating Twitter into each factor of day by day lifestyles — even the nearby school’s lunch menu is sent out thru social media — this Spanish metropolis has end up a test bed for a way towns can also subsequently use social networks to offer public services.

Jun’s town hall, emblazoned with its own Twitter handle. credit score Laura Leon for The big apple instances
“Jun is one in every of a set of islands of innovation inside the public area,” stated Arthur Mickoleit, a researcher who until lately turned into a digital government adviser at the organisation for financial Cooperation and improvement in Paris. “They’re tapping into social media to enhance public services.”
Mr. Rodríguez Salas, a profession flesh presser, changed into elected Jun’s mayor in 2005 — the yr before Twitter changed into based — after serving as deputy mayor. In 2011, he asked all metropolis officials — from his deputy to the street sweeper — to open accounts on Twitter and ship messages approximately their day by day activities. The goal, he stated, become to create extra responsibility and transparency over how Jun become run. Mr. Rodríguez Salas introduced that he selected Twitter over facebook because Twitter allowed quicker interactions.

Jun’s officers additionally started asking citizens to verify their Twitter debts on the metropolis hall — a fairly simple technique of checking humans’s authorities IDs with their on line profiles to ensure their issues were replied online.

officials started with primary services like public upkeep, letting human beings tweet when they saw a damaged streetlight or a road that wanted cleansing.

Mr. Rodríguez Salas stated such activities built excellent will with residents, who before everything opened Twitter accounts sporadically. but since 2013, the net interest has become almost universal as human beings noticed how their associates used the carrier.

María José Martínez, Jun’s information generation leader, also ran publications at the community center to educate Twitter a hundred and one, consisting of sending direct messages and the usage of the proper hashtag at some point of local campaigns.

One recent hashtag that citizens have used is #EndesaMeEstresa, or “Endesa You’re Stressing Me Out,” to focus on problems with Endesa, a local application. After the organisation became confronted with Jun’s angry tweets, it fast constant the blackouts, Mr. Rodríguez Salas said. An Endesa spokeswoman declined to remark.

“we are able to take a look at in the event that they’re genuinely running or not,” said % Castellano, a resident who lately opened a Twitter account, mainly to maintain tabs on neighborhood officials.

Mr. Rodríguez stated those interactions have made the city extra efficient simply as Jun’s budget — like many Spanish towns’ — is underneath pressure. His officials rarely receive calls or visits from people looking for assist, he said.

To foster greater duty and transparency in Jun, avenue sweepers and other city employees are asked to put up messages approximately their daily activities on Twitter. credit Laura Leon for The new york times
the use of Twitter has also reduced the want for a few jobs. Jun cut its police pressure by three-quarters, to simply one officer, soon after turning to Twitter as its fundamental shape of communique when residents started out tweeting ability issues without delay to the mayor.

“We don’t have one police officer,” Mr. Rodríguez Salas stated. “we have 3,500.”

Jun has no longer long gone overlooked through Twitter. Dick Costolo, the employer’s chief govt till 2015, visited ultimate summer season, leaving his handprints in cement below an obelisk topped with Twitter’s brand of a blue hen. The Massachusetts Institute of technology, with funding from Twitter, has analyzed how the city’s citizens have benefited from the use of the social network. Jun does now not get hold of cash from Twitter for using the provider.

For Justo Ontiveros, Jun’s ultimate police officer, those advantages are up near and private. He now gets up to twenty, broadly speaking private, messages from locals each day with concerns ranging from advice on filling out bureaucracy to reporting crimes like domestic abuse and speeding.

Mr. Ontiveros said his every day Twitter interactions have given him both greater visibility in the network and a higher stage of private pleasure, as buddies now frequently prevent him in the road to speak about matters that he has posted on Twitter.

“It gives human beings more energy to come back and talk to me about their troubles,” stated Mr. Ontiveros, whose department Twitter account has greater than three,500 fans.

nevertheless, Jun’s reliance on Twitter has now not been universally embraced.

numerous citizens said they might decide upon officials to focus on offering public services over selling themselves on the social community. The mayor’s spouse also has stored a low profile on the social community. “She prefers to be anonymous,” Mr. Rodríguez Salas said.

It’s unclear, too, whether training from Jun may be replicated on a bigger scale, several analysts said, even as a few question whether a publicly listed organization like Twitter have to be authorised to assist provide government services.

“have to a municipality take delight in reducing its work force through outsourcing it to an international organisation?” stated Richard Rogers, a professor of recent media on the college of Amsterdam.

For José María de los angeles Torre Sarmiento, an architect who these days stopped with the aid of Jun’s city hall after paintings to verify his Twitter account, the danger to quick send tweets remained ultimate to filing government bureaucracy that frequently took weeks to manner.

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