San Francisco Uses Twitter to Support 311 Services

I read on Mashable today that effective immediately, the city of San Francisco will be using Twitter to support all of the city’s 311 services.

San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newscom announced this new use of Twitter via a press conference, viewable on YouTube. All SF residents need to do is follow and tweet at the new sf311 account. Using Twitter, residents can submit their 311 requests/questions (i.e. non-emergency SF incidents such as flooded streets, potholes, etc.) and in return, those monitoring the account will provide the required answers and support. The account will be monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, guaranteeing access to all 311 services, all the time.

According to sfgov.org, the idea to enable 311 support through Twitter came from a meeting with Mayor Newscom and Twitter’s Evan Williams and Biz Stone. The mayor supposedly received a tweet about a pothole during the meeting, leading him to talk with his Department of Technology to see how else Twitter could be used to communicate with the SF residents. Interesting note – this isn’t the Mayor’s first look at Twitter – I read in TechCrunch that he also announced his bid for governor of California via Twitter.

Twitter is based on one-on-one, instantaneous communication, and to me, this seems like a perfect use for this social media application. It will be interesting to see how it works and how else Newscom decides to use Twitter to communicate with his constituency. Also, will other cities follow suit? I’d love if Cleveland did something similar, and with all of our technological expertise and brilliant minds, I don’t see why we can’t!

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