I have always been amazed with the efficiency and effectiveness of using crowd-sourcing tools to facilitate communication. Online link-sharing and discussion communities (like Reddit or Hacker News) can literally take a group of millions and effectively consolidate them into a single voice.
I am extremely disappointed in the reluctance of our most important communicators to adopt these technologies. I’m talking about our politicians — the people who represent us in local, state, and federal government.
Why haven’t our representatives embraced crowd-sourcing technology? Well, some of them have, (See Before Bitcoin panel, senator crashes Reddit for advice) but for most part, these technologies are ignored.
Ideally, a representative makes very few decisions based on their personal beliefs or preferences. The duty of our representatives is to speak on behalf of their constituents as best they can. But often times it feels like our representatives are creating their own agendas which partially overlap with the will of the people.
So how can citizens launch a better effort to communicate with their leaders? Email and social media have certainly increased a representative’s ability to talk to their constituents. However, it’s time for us to utilize a better method of communication.
This is why I created the Ideas For COSA (City of San Antonio) community. This community is essentially a suggestion box for the City Council of San Antonio. The innovative feature of this community is that any user can vote for or against another user’s idea. All of the ideas are then displayed by the most popular to least popular. Poor ideas that the community does not agree with will be pushed down and mostly ignored. Great ideas supported by the community will rise to the top and receive the most attention.
Of course this community won’t make a difference if our leaders and representatives don’t pay attention to it. But we’ve learned from social media that if we use an application to communicate with each other, our representatives will use it too.
If you live in San Antonio and want to join me on a quest to communicate with our representatives in a new and more effective way, register at ideasforcosa.ideascale.com and contribute your ideas today. You can sign up with an email address or login with a social media account.
Official updates with the top ideas from the community will be emailed directly to all City Council members. Any member of the community can also subscribe for notifications to stay up-to-date with new idea submissions.
*Featured/top image: Citizens line up to speak in City Council chambers. Photo by Scott Ball.