I’ve come across a few apps recently which allow people to report a whole variety of issues from potholes in the road, graffiti, problems with street lighting, fallen branches, abandoned vehicles and more. You can also follow the progress of the issue you reported. I think the fact that local councils are using social media to reach out to people in this way is fantastic.

The thought I am left with, however, is: why use an app in the first place? Why not simply provide a #hashtag for a person to use? I understand that from a council’s perspective providing an app ensures that the report will get to the right place so it can be dealt with. But from my perspective, unless I have a huge sense of civic responsibility, I’m not sure if I would download an app that I might use on the odd occasion to report a pothole or an abandoned vehicle. However, I know, if I simply had to add a #hashtag to a Tweet I would be far more likely to report problems I happened to come across.

Sometimes, the real power of technology comes from knowing when to use it and not from the technology itself. Sometimes it’s about learning from watching people to see how they do things, rather than trying to teach them your ways. Don’t kid yourself that simply by creating an app you’re talking the same language as the people you’re trying to communicate with. Social is a way of thinking, with new currencies and new languages for all of us to learn and try out.

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