Quincy and Technology

By Travis on April 24, 2010

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I’m pleased to see the progress that has been made with social media in the past year and a half within Quincy. Businesses are now realizing there is some value to having a social media presence for inbound marketing capabilities. Some businesses still have alot to learn about affective communication within social media, however they’re out there getting their feet wet, and that’s  a good thing. In late February/March I was informed of a local initiative to try and make Quincy a location for a new high speed fiber internet experiment by Google. We’re still waiting to hear if Google finds Quincy an ideal place or not, but the overall highlight in my mind is the fact that people are coming together to try and make things happen on a grass roots level. The fiber group successfully explained the opportunity to city hall and when all was said and done helped Quincy put in an official bid by city representatives.

The first thing that crossed my mind when I heard that Quincy was trying to get the Google Fiber network was the city’s official website. Inevitably Google or it’s representatives will likely take a peek at what Quincy has to offer, most likely coming across the City’s official website. Anybody with a minor level of web savvy will realize that changes need to be made here. At one time in the history of the internet you could get away with making a very simple HTML static website that was a one way street of information, almost a “e-billboard”. This is not the case anymore. Websites are expected to be two way hubs of information, receiving and transmitting meaningful content in a cause and affect manner. Content should be updated on a regular basis, providing a potential web viewer the motive return. I don’t think that the city of Quincy sees the potential value in a new website, otherwise I feel it would have been done along time ago. Let’s think about it like this, when someone first enters Quincy they will inevitably have a first impression, what will that impression be? If coming over the bridge from the west a visitor will see the Bayview Bridge, Clat Adams  park, and the heart of the  historic downtown district. If coming from the east a visitor is sure to notice the large retail chain stores and evidence urban sprawl to the east. I am certain that certain that aspects of beautification have taken place already to help create a nice visual appeal to these areas. the riverfront is continuing to see development and improvement, and large retail stores need to uphold certain standards with landscaping. The reason this is done is to help create a pleasant experience to both the people that utilize and access these places everyday, as well as to make a good first impression to those who visit our city.

In my mind the website should be no different. the city of Quincy has the opportunity to help further the beautification process of a good first impression into the website. I don’t just mean making it look pretty, but making the content interactive and valuable not only to a web visitor but to a citizen of Quincy looking for information. Think of the city website as entering a city, a portal into who the community is. Do we want the first impression to be that of an outdated website with very static content? Doing so, is a injustice to the history of the area, architecture, arts community, and overall an insult to the great people of Quincy. A modern website forf Quincy, Illinois can serve as a hub for relevant information about everyday life in Quincy, ie: boil orders, street closings,city council agenda info, and so much more. Over the past year the city has taken it’s share of punches for not being transparent enough. I think these allegations would be more of a mute point if the city had a better way of communicating to the masses via a website with blog capabilities and integration with social media. The local media has been doing a great job of bringing Quincians information as it happens utilizing twitter and facebook for updates. The city of Quincy should embrace this technology as well. Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about; Just last night, a wave of thunderstorms with tornado producing capabilities rolled through the area. I went to bed later thinking all was quiet, after midnight I awoke to the sounds of the tornado sirens blaring. Was I to assume that the weather had taken a turn for the worse, or was everything OK? I first went online searching for information to no avail. I then turned on the TV  expecting to see some kind of instruction on what was going on and if there was any cause for alarm, there was nothing. I will credit WGEM’s Facebook and Twitter streams for relaying the information that the siren’s were indeed a malfunction and not a cause for alarm, however I think things could have been handled better. If the city of Quincy had any kind of presence in social media, when I went to Twitter, or Facebook, I would have seen a tweet/post stating that there was a malfunction with the equipment. Instead, I had to wait for somebody at WGEM to make a few phone calls and relay the information themselves. In this day and age there is absolutely no reason I should have had to wait close to a half hour to find this information out. The ability social media has to communicate information quickly to large groups of people absolutely NEEDS to be looked at seriously by the city of Quincy, there’s no way around it.

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2 Responses to “Quincy and Technology”

  1. Aaron says:

    I too went to Twitter last night, thinking of the way major disasters in the last few years were reported faster on Twitter than conventional media. But the number of Twitter users in Quincy is still fairly small, especially at 1am, so it wasn’t exactly instant, but apparently still faster than most media sources.

    I know what you mean about the city’s website not giving a great impression, but I never expect much from a government web site, do you? Granted, they could set up something more interactive so citizens can provide content, but that requires moderators, and before long they’d be missing the next big thing. Government just isn’t good at being on the cutting edge. (Not without tremendous expense, anyway. Remember what the city’s IT director was being paid to run soccer web sites? Do you take that kind of salary from qtown.info?) Better to let sites like yours and media sites grow and provide information than to expect the city to do it.

  2. Travis says:

    All valid points Aaron, I agree most government related sits do leave some to be desired, however minor changes if only graphical could go along way in helping the first impression of Quincy. I wish I took ANY kind of salary for this website unfortunately it’s a labor of love rather than profit :) . I just have a hard time accepting the fact that free services such as twitter and Facebook that would help route city wide communication from the SOURCE would not be a smart move in terms of transparency and effective communication, rather than using the old standby of waiting for someone else to explain the situation for them. More often than not things can get lost in translation. Thanks for the comment Aaron, I appreciate it.

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