With more and more people joining Twitter by the day, a small town in Granada, Spain realized it could harness the social network to help run business more smoothly.
According to The Independent, the government of Jun is using Twitter as its main way to communicate back and forth with its residents. It’s believed to be the first town to adopt the social network as the dominant method of communication.
The town, about 260 miles south of Madrid, has been using Twitter since September 2011 to share local news, developments, job opportunities and even to discuss the school lunch menu.
The use of the social network has grown to a point where residents, about 3,500 in total, will book appointments with doctors, lodge complains about local services, report crimes to police and remain engaged with community events.
The town’s mayor, Jose Antonio Rodriguez Salas, is known to be very active through his own account and all of the town’s public services have their own account – even the only police officer in town.
The police office’s squad car has the department’s Twitter account painted on the body and the Twitter bird logo can be seen all around town.
“We’ve broken through the heavy, creaking bureaucracy that has occupied public office in Spain for the past 300 years, with the use of a single bird,” Rodriguez Salas said, according to The Independent.
“The Spaniards, and in general people from the Latin world, do not known how to complain effectively. When we have a problem we usually go to the nearest bar and grumble about the mayor or president, but the problem remains. Thanks to Twitter, people can complain directly, which helps us grow as politicians.”
Researchers at the Laboratory for Social Machines at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab are reportedly studying the town to see if social networking is the key to improve public communication at a wider scale.
Sergio Gonzales Naveros, head of education and sports in Jun, told The Independent he appreciates the directness of Twitter and believes it “eliminates hierarchies and empowers residents because it’s a horizontal system where everyone’s opinions are as important as the mayor’s.”
He said it does have its downfalls.
“When you have children, a family or are studying, being connected all day is hard. Being seen all day, mobile in hand, it's not the example I want to set,” he said. “But it's our work, we believe in the project and try to make time… we've put innovation at the heart of our mission."
Mayor Rodriguez Salas said Twitter and other social media networks will transform urban centers across the world and his town is ensuring they are ahead of the game.
“Society will transform its archaic and backward structures," he said. "Politicians and governments that are not incorporated in this process will become less credible in a society that doesn't want to do without active listening and active response."