One of the most challenging aspects of government is to receive people’s opinions in an efficient manner. While representatives are meant to represent the general opinions of their constituents, oftentimes the federal government is so sprawling that it can’t access the opinions of the populace. Especially in countries like the United States, which cover such a huge geographical area and have so many millions of citizens, communication is paramount.
In today’s modern world, the internet is making communication between different parties easier than ever. People seated on different sides of the planet, who in years past may never have known about the other’s existence, find themselves becoming good friends. Additionally, the government too can use technology to become more accessible to its constituents.
The following are some ways that governmental IT programs are improving overall communication efforts:
Emergency Alert Notifications
In the past, communication alerts regarding emergencies and dangers were broadcast over the television and the radio. Some communities have sirens that sound in cases of emergency, such as a tornado or a nuclear issue. But the number of communities with no alarm sirens far outnumber these.
Communicating during a disaster has always been an issue that the government has tried to tackle. Regardless of whether alerts are broadcast over the radio waves and the television, some people still won’t receive those alerts. But more and more people have cell phones on their person at all times. These people might receive alerts when out of reach of televisions or radios.
This use of technology is still largely untested. In order for constituents to receive alerts, the government would need to build a database of contacts. This information gathering would likely be left to individual states rather than the federal government. Then citizens would have to consent to the alert system, the same way they consent to other application notifications.
Still, this type of alert system could save hundreds of lives.
Public Service Announcements
Public service announcements are usually relegated to television commercials, radio broadcast, and updates on government websites. But in the future, these announcements could be sent to constituents’ phones and tablets immediately upon their implementation.
This convenience would revolutionize the way that the government communicates its updates with its citizens. Right now, it can take months for people to hear about changes to the laws that govern their day-to-day lives. If a state has a new hands-free driving rule, for example, they may publish literature about it. They may also use road signs to inform motorists of the change. But this doesn’t guarantee that everyone will know about the change by the time the law is implemented.
If the government has a mailing list of consenting constituents, they can send out information and reminders about things that concern the public. Even things like voting reminders could be sent via email, eliminating the need for snail mail reminders and door-to-door work.
Not only would this make information more accessible to the public, but it would use fewer of the government’s resources. Right now, there isn’t a large amount of coordination between different government sectors regarding their methods of communication. But if all government sectors used the same basic pool of contact information, representatives could avoid repeating messages or wasting time rewriting the same message twice.
Not only can IT programs improve government-to-citizen communication through a unified database, but citizens can communicate better with the government itself. Experts currently refer to the government’s communication style as a “one-way conversation.” But it doesn’t have to be that way.
We’re already seeing government agencies and representatives take to social media like Twitter and Facebook. Automated programs could sift through commentary on social media posts, sorting the most common responses and key words. In this way, representatives would understand what conversation most populates their constituents’ discussions, without needing to read through hundreds of comments on their own.