The Southwest United States, particularly California, is experiencing serious drought and we’re in desperate need of rain. People are concerned about the risk and worsening of wildfires, reduced agricultural production, and increasing grocery store prices.
As a Los Angeles-based company, we’ve felt the effects directly in our own lives. We couldn’t sit back and ignore the problem; we knew there had to be a way for individuals to make an impact.
Here at CitySourced we are all about citizen engagement. Did you know Instagram for government is an effective way to communicate directly with citizens through images, videos, and short snippets of text?
It is a wonderfully versatile platform. More and more governments are joining the ‘gram train and are using Instagram to share and connect. Instagram allows you to increase transparency, raise awareness, take polls, share some of the day-to-day operations of government officials, and more. Citizens can like, share, and comment on the content they care about. It’s useful, personable, and fun for everyone.
If you’re just getting started on Instagram, here are some quick tips:
- Balance business with fun.
- Include fun images and videos as well as important information about local or national issues.
- Link Instagram to Twitter and Facebook.
- Encourage Twitter and Facebook followers and friends to follow you on Instagram.
- Automatically publish your Instagram feed to Twitter and Facebook.
- Use popular or government related #hashtags to gain visibility. Some examples:
- #localgov – local government
- #egov – eGovernment (tech savvy, internet friendly government)
- #gov20 – government 2.0 (policies that improve transparency and efficiency)
- Follow your followers back.
- Like and share their content.
- Even leave comments, time permitting.
- Use Instagram apps to drastically enhance your content.
The best way to become Instagram savvy is to learn from great examples. Here are 12 government Instagram accounts you should follow.
1. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti
Garcetti shares photos of the city, local establishments, and current events. Occasionally he includes more personal photos using the hashtag #tbt (throw back Thursday).
2. The City of Monterey
Monterey posts images of its gorgeous town, both on ground and in the water. The folks who man this account really take advantage of the text you can include with each photo. They post about city projects, places to visit, fun facts, and award-winning attractions.
3. York Region
Located in Ontario, Canada, York Region joined Instagram in June, 2014 and has featured a wide variety of content. What’s great about their Instagram is that they are experimenting with branding on images, holding Instagram contests, and posting videos like this one about pedestrian safety.
iEfficiency is all about ending water waste and motivating Californians to engage in drought-tolerant landscaping. They communicate the message “Your future is more important than your lawn” by incorporating text into their images for maximum impact. They keep their image descriptions short and to the point.
5. The City of Eastvale
On the City of Eastvale‘s Instagram, which has been active for almost a year now, you’ll find weather updates, event flyers, lost dog notices, information about local businesses, occasional beautiful images of the sky, and more. Their posts are usually very specific and very helpful.
6. The City of Issaquah
Averaging at least a post a day, the City of Issaquah, WA is very active on Instagram. They often share seasonal and holiday specific images. Recurring themes include the gorgeous foliage and the Salmon they’re known for. Issaquah’s Instagram is friendly, fun, and inviting.
7. The City of Ballarat
The City of Ballarat, Australia is proud of its history. In addition to beautiful images of their city, they use the hashtag #wbw (wayback Wednesday) and create hashtags of their own like #loveballaratinspring and #loveballaratinwinter.
8. The City of Sydney
The City of Sydney puts an emphasis on local events and local art, but also often posts images of the stunning cityscape.
9. The TSA
The TSA is on Instagram! There are a lot of travel tips and images of weapons discovered in carry-on luggage at airports around the U.S. They also feature TSA Explosives Detection Canines. (Cute! But they mean business.)
NASA is on Instagram too, with space related images and time-lapse videos of earth to boot. It’s awe-inspiring. Definitely check it out.
11. The U.S. Department of the Interior
The U.S. Department of the Interior‘s mission is to protect the great outdoors. You find beautiful landscapes and rare animals on their Instagram.
12. The Boston Fire Department
The Boston Fire Department consistently uses the tags #BostonStrong, #BostonsBravest, and #BostonFire to share photos of fires in the city, honor brave firefighters, and show fire trucks new and old.
We hope this list has given you ample ideas and inspiration to create and improve your own Instagram account.
Did we miss some great accounts? Tell us about your activity with Instagram and we just might feature your work next time!
The City of Peachtree Corners used it’s annual Festival, the ‘Peachtree Corners Festival’, to announce and education the public on the launch of it’s Mobile App. Peachtree Corners’ City Council approved a 311 mobile and web application, naming it Peachtree Corners Fix-It.
The app allows citizens to easily report non-emergency civic issues such as public works, environmental hazards, and quality of life. The user can upload a photo or video of concern and mark the geographic location on the map, which is then directed towards the City Hall for quick and systematic resolution.
Shayne Gallo, Mayor of the City of Kingston, to host ‘Download Day’ unveiling of Smartphone app that improves city quality of life. The app, built by CitySourced, allows residents to easily report quality of life issues such as park vandalism, trash and environmental hazards and for these smart reports (including photo & GPS location) to be automatically sent to City Hall for systematic and prioritized resolution. More >
The City of Wilmington, DE launched a new Smartphone application which allows citizens to identify and report non-emergency civic issues, such as public works, quality of life, and environmental issues. This mobile reporting platform will improve how Wilmington delivers services to its neighborhoods.
“Report It/Resolve It” allows a user to capture a photo, video, or audio of the problem. The user then uploads the media and, along with GPS location information pulled directly from the device, submits a report directly to the appropriate department. Once a report is submitted, feedback is provided to the user based on the action taken by the department handling the report.
For the Public Works department, the issues are integrated directly into the Asset Management System provided by Cityworks. Using the Service Request API, the staff works to update Cityworks and all updates are automatically forward to the public.
Society is driven by technology, so we must adapt and advance our technological abilities as well, creating a system where residents can report Public Works issues online will help us more effectively serve our community. – Mayor Williams
Using “Report It/Resolve It” allows the city to use technology to save time and money, while improving accountability. In addition, the application verifies that the item being reported is within the city boundaries. If there is a pothole, for instance, outside the city boundaries, the GPS tracking service from the device the sender is using will identify the location of the issue being reported and notify the sender.
The City of Weatherford, TX, the county seat of Parker County, TX, has further built out it’s citizen 311 constituent services by deploying a new smartphone application which allows citizens to identify and report non-emergency civic issues, such as public works, quality of life, and environmental issues. This mobile reporting platform will improve how the city delivers services to its neighborhoods.
‘Weatherford 311’ allows a user to capture a photo, video, or audio of the problem. The user then uploads the media and, along with GPS location information pulled directly from the device, submits a report directly to the appropriate department. Once a report is submitted, feedback is provided to the user based on the action taken by the department handling the report.
Sedona, AZ, a city that straddles Coconino and Yavapai counties in the northern Verde Valley region, has launched a new smartphone application which allows citizens to identify and report non-emergency civic issues, such as public works, quality of life, and environmental issues. This mobile reporting platform will improve how Sedona delivers services to its neighborhoods.
‘Sedona Citizens Connect’ allows a user to capture a photo, video, or audio of the problem. The user then uploads the media and, along with GPS location information pulled directly from the device, submits a report directly to the appropriate department. Once a report is submitted, feedback is provided to the user based on the action taken by the department handling the report.
As we dive head first into 2014, it’s nice to look back and honor the great work of local government. Government Technology has honored and showcased the best and brightest public sector IT organizations. We’re pleased to announce that CitySourced was the largest represented mobile citizen engagement platform, with four CitySourced clients winning.
The award winners were divided into categories based on the populations served. Because the CitySourced platform scales to any size municipality, CitySourced was represented in the largest all the way down to the smallest population categories. Here are the CitySourced clients winning 2013 Digital Cities Awards:
Wishing you all a very Happy Holidays from everyone at CitySourced! 2013 has been an amazing year. In the startup up world, it feels like we’re always moving forward at 100 mph. That’s why it’s nice this time of year to gather as a team and look back at the year. We’ve got a lot to be thankful for in 2013.
Here are just a few highlights and happy holidays for 2013:
From the very beginning our app has always been about helping local governments, residents, and organizations on a local level. Reporting graffiti in your neighborhood, fighting for clean air, sharing comments with your neighbors, or even just getting news updates from your local council member.
But, more than just helping our customers, we as a team are involved in our community. We care about our local community, especially as it relates to technology. Here are just a few ways we get involved.
#1 Hack for LA
Hackathons have seen a atmospheric rise in popularity inside the technology sphere. The buzz is catching on with governments and civic minded groups. Locally here in Los Angeles, it all started on National Day of Civic Hacking, in June at the Boyle Heights Youth Technology Center.
Hack for LA is a call to action for anyone in Los Angeles who wants to make an impact; anyone can get involved. Projects can address any challenge facing the community, such as platforms that address food and housing distribution for those in need.