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February 9, 2012
Melding Technology Into Municipal PR
 
Granted, we're reacting to only a preview report on a website, but what officials in the town of Huntington, Long Island, New York, are planning in terms of a new citizen request system looks like a promising blend of technology, communication, and municipal responsiveness. In short, good public-spirited PR.

To be launched March 1, Huntington At Your Service "will allow residents to make requests and track progress, whether by smart phone message, a phone call or sent letter, and reduce the number of people who get transferred from department to department when contacting Town Hall."  Residents will be able to report problems anytime, day or night, and have a reasonable expectation they will be dealt with promptly.

The system is supposed to route calls automatically to the right department. "We want to know if there's a pothole, we want to know if a light is out," says Huntington Town Councilman Mark Cuthbertson. "We are at the service of the people of this town."

The new system is costing $16,000 and being installed by Connecticut-based QScend Technologies. We wish it well, as a promising initiative in technology and municipal responsiveness. Huntington will also be upgrading its website, which is good, because a visit there suggests it needs some work, too.

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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