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Top Picks: Leveraging the Sharing Economy, Citizen Engagement, Improving Police-Community Relations


February 22, 2016 by Byron Katsuyama
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Top Picks: Leveraging the Sharing Economy, Citizen Engagement, Improving Police-Community Relations

Each week I scan the web for interesting and useful news, blog posts, articles, and reports from a variety of local government-related sources, and post them to the In Focus section of MRSC’s homepage. Here are some top picks from my most recent scans.

Leveraging the Power of the Sharing Economy

While the focus in many jurisdictions has been on how best to respond to and regulate new sharing economy-based businesses like Airbnb and Uber, a few forward thinking communities are also looking at ways that businesses like these might actually be able to help local governments to deliver and improve services. A recent four-part series from Government Technology highlights several intriguing examples that demonstrate how some local governments are leveraging the power of the sharing economy to deliver such services as specialized transportation for seniors and disabled passengers, emergency housing, interjurisdictional equipment sharing and other service needs that lower costs, fill service gaps, and offer new options for service delivery. By all accounts, the sharing economy is expected to grow significantly in the coming decade with plenty of disruptive effects to go around. Local governments are likely to encounter both challenges and opportunities as these changes unfold. How will your local government organization benefit from the new sharing economy?

Improving Citizen Engagement Efforts

I’m always on the lookout for new tools to improve local government citizen engagement efforts. The Alliance for Innovation’s website offers a variety of resources designed to help local governments improve their citizen outreach and engagement efforts. The Alliance’s Connected Communities White Paper is a good place to start. This report outlines a variety of strategies communities can use to achieve higher levels of engagement and includes case studies of successful local government efforts to involve citizens in decision-making and problem-solving. Their Knowledge Network page on citizen engagement offers access to a number of useful blog posts, articles, documents, and other related resources. By the way, the Washington SAO-sponsored free Alliance memberships are still available to Washington local governments through March 31 and possibly beyond.

Using Social Media to Improve Police-Community Relations

Police departments across the country are discovering how the use of popular social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube can lead to significant improvements in police-community relations. At a time when many police departments are facing increased public scrutiny, social media communication tools can help departments highlight stories about positive interactions with citizens, present a more human face to the community, and enhance community policing efforts. Listen to this GovTech Social podcast about the role of social media in law enforcement as an important trust and relationship builder. A GovTech Social article, The Social Police: Facebook, Twitter Play Role in Modern Policing, offers an overview of how police departments are growing their social media presence to engage more effectively with the public and improve their image. Finally, Social Media a 'Game-Changer' for Police Investigations, GovTech Social, details how a strong social media presence can translate into higher clearance rates as members of the community begin to assist with police investigations.

See how these Washington police and sheriff's departments are using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to engage with their communities:  


MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

About Byron Katsuyama

Byron began work at the Center as a Research Assistant in July 1978. He holds a B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of Washington and an M.P.A. from the University of Washington's Evan’s School of Public Policy and Governance. After completing his M.P.A., Byron joined MRSC's consulting staff as a Public Policy and Management Consultant concentrating on municipal administration and policy analysis. Byron is responsible for research in such areas as emerging local government issues, best practices, strategic planning, performance measurement, and local government management. In addition to his consulting duties, Byron also maintains the "Focus" section of MRSC's website and is editor of our "In Focus" and "Ask MRSC" e-newsletters. He also coordinates our HR, Planning, Finance, Government Performance, and Council/Commission Advisors. In his own community of Kirkland, Byron also served for eight years as a member of the city's planning commission. Byron is a member of the Washington City/County Management Association (WCMA) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

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