The Twitter Town: local politics via social media in Spain

The town of Jun in southern Spain has been working with MIT to bring local civic services to the people - by Twitter

Can you imagine a town using social media as a central plank of its public infrastructure?


Well, that’s exactly what Jun in southern Spain has been doing:

In the most basic scenario, a citizen who has a question, request or complaint tweets it to the mayor or one of his staff, who work to resolve the matter. For instance, in the sequence of tweets shown below (which we pulled from the 2014 Twitter data and translated into English), at 10:48 pm a citizen tells the mayor that a street lamp is out on Maestro Antonio Linares Street. Nine minutes later, the mayor replies that he’ll have the town electrician fix it the next day. The mayor’s tweet includes the Twitter handle of the electrician, who is automatically notified that he’s been mentioned and sees the exchange. That tweet is a public promise that the town will indeed take action, and to underline this it ends with the hashtag #JunGetsMoving. The next day, the electrician tweets a photo of the repaired fixture, thanking the citizen for his help and repeating the hashtag

It’s very difficult to see this sort of experiment scaling to major cities but for towns and villages in the thousands to tens of thousands – Jun has 3,500 people – it makes a lot of sense.

That said, according to Jemima Kiss in The Guardian, they’re a long way from getting the whole community involved:

Six hundred residents have had their accounts registered at the town hall so far, and are using it to book rooms at the town hall, make doctor’s appointments, report crimes or street lamps that need fixing and tweet about school lunches.

But still an intriguing vision of local engagement…