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LiLi: Library Live and On Tour

I first encountered LiLi at the 2013 American Libraries Association Midwinter Meeting in Seattle in a session titled, “Library Live and On Tour: Taking the Library to the Street.” I met Smitty Miller later that day in the Exhibit Hall where LiLi was on display, lights flashing, music blaring just like she would be out on the street. The experience was unlike any other I have had while engaging with a library and librarian. Smitty spoke about breaking down barriers and shared stories from the tour. She got a standing ovation. In the exhibit hall, LiLi drew attention and even a traditional shhh from some neighboring booths. At the time, I felt excited to embark on my new chosen profession.

Who is LiLi?

LiLi stands for Library Live and is an outfitted 2012 Nissan Cube. The person behind this creation, known as the Tour Manager is Smitty Miller, the Community Development Librarian at Fraser Valley Regional Library in British Columbia, Canada. The current Community Development Specialist is Janeen Parent.

What is LiLi?

She is more than a car. Think contemporary bookmobile that has gone beyond the delivery of books to the community, instead focussing on outreach services to marginalized and socially-excluded populations by meeting people where they are, interacting throughout the community, providing access to information and technology, adult literacy advocacy, and awareness.

Why LiLi?

1) To raise awareness about Fraser Valley Regional Library (FVRL) and shatter stereotypes about libraries, library services and library customers; 2) To reach the underserved who do not know about the library or have some obstacles to visiting the library; and, 3) To strengthen existing and establish new community partners between FVRL and community agencies in the Fraser Valley.

Where is LiLi?

LiLi is on tour, shattering stereotypes about libraries and librarians, connecting with community members in unexpected places, including shelters, senior homes, transition houses, food banks, soup kitchens, corrections facilities, clubhouses for adults with special needs, First Nations Communities, etc. LiLi can also be seen participating in various fairs, festivals, and parades.

How?

Funding: Original grant awarded in 2012 by the Libraries and Literacy Branch of the British Columbia provincial government.

Special Contributors: 360 Fabrication (customized design and equipment), Clarion Canada (audio equipment), Abbotsford Nissan (vehicle upgrades and accessories), First Book Canada (materials).

Tech

  • CD/DVD and MP3 touch screen
  • Xbox connect and games
  • 2 laptop computers with 3G Internet connectivity
  • 2 Kobo eReaders
  • Sony eReader
  • iPad2
  • Blackberry Playbook
  • Daisy MP3 book player
  • Playaway books

For more information, visit LiLi: Library Live and On Tour™.

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Tech Spotlight: Town of Cary IT Department Gets a Facelift

The Town of Cary officials have been looking for ways to keep their town a place people want to live. In addition to the Town of Cary 2040 Community Plan, they have been working on major updates to their technologies. The goal is to increase both internal and external processes in order to streamline services for citizens while being more efficient. Four years ago they moved to using “Samanage, an IT service management solution (ITSM), to provide fast and consistent service delivery across departments and functions. Using Samanage, the Town of Cary has built a service request portal that provides a robust self-service experience on the front-end, and user-friendly processes for administrators on the back-end.”

 

They are now planning to increase their streamlining capabilities through Samanage for Salesforce. This will allow them “to integrate their ITSM and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions into one centralized platform.” Not only will this create additional efficiencies for staff, allowing them to spend more time on other services, but it will provide a better experience for the citizen on the front-end. As a resident, I look forward to experiencing these changes as they role this out.

 

https://www.samanage.com/company/news/2017/09/town-of-cary-and-samanage/

Tech Spotlight: City of Los Angeles Uses Chatbots to Engage with Public

The city of Los Angeles began using the City Hall Internet Personality or Chip in spring 2017 for the Business Assistance Virtual Network website. The chatbot answers routine questions about how contracting opportunities with the city, where to find business information, and how to stay connected about upcoming events. Chip can respond in a number of languages from Spanish, Ukranian, and French to Klingon. The bot has the capacity to curate information from previous questions to learn so it can better answer future questions and its knowledge has grown over the short time it has been in use. Chip has been saving employee time, providing immediate responses to routine inquiries so that employees can focus on higher-level work.

It is a good example of a creative way to provide residents basic information efficiently and on-demand. People get a quick answer to their questions and feel like their government is responsive. It isn’t bound by business hours, so stakeholders can interact with the government on their time. Government employees like not having to constantly respond to the same questions so it improves morale and efficiency.

Chatbot technology can be a good way to collect feedback and get data on what types of things the public wants to know and that could drive future outreach and improve existing communications. As long as it is additive to existing feedback collection methods it can provide clear, actionable data and might reach populations that aren’t comfortable calling, emailing, or visiting government offices. The more the chatbot learns the more complex questions it can answer for the public and can help with difficult tasks like filling out applications or responding to more nuanced questions.

As chatbots become more common, however, there are data security and privacy concerns that organizations need to address. Organizations will have to figure out how to store and use the individual information they are collecting and how and when to anonymize it. The more the chatbots become human-like the more likely they will be used for things like phishing scams so agencies will need to figure out how to communicate verified information to stakeholders.

You can ask Chip questions here.

USDOT Teams Up With Waze to “Predict” Fatal Accidents

Last month the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced a data-sharing partnership with the traffic app Waze to collect and analyze information on road conditions, weather affects, and driver behaviors to understand and prevent fatal accidents. The ultimate goal is to use the USDOT historical data and driver behavior data to be able to “predict” when fatal accidents might occur.

The project has three stages: the first is to breakdown historical data sets to identify 3-5 factors that contribute to fatal accidents. The second is to use private sector data, through apps such as Waze, to compare with historical trends. The final stage is to prepare this data to be analyzed by artificial intelligence technologies to predict when fatal accidents will occur.

One of the goals of this collaboration is to understand how roadway characteristics influence fatal accidents and to how best USDOT can address them. Past data initiatives have been focused on other driver behaviors, such as seatbelt use.

This is a rather interesting for of using technology to gather information on citizens behaviors and how they are using public resources to then shape future policies and/or infrastructure. Waze is a traffic app designed to map routes and provide real-time traffic and accident information. The app is already collecting information on when users are traveling, where, and other behaviors such as speeding. This partnership allows USDOT to collect information from a source that citizens are already interacting with on a large scale.

Source: https://www.enotrans.org/article/usdot-launches-new-data-initiative-predict-maybe-prevent-fatal-crashes/

The Use of Storytelling and Mapping to Engage Your Community

Place Changing is an organization in San Antonio, Texas that is focused on developing healthier, more vibrant neighborhoods. Place Changing is partnership between The River Report, a local online news source, and Overland Partners, an architectural agency. They aim to use civic engagement to counteract the uncoordinated growth and the outward expansion of a city, otherwise known as sprawl. In order to do this, they are using the tools of storytelling and a technological project they call Neighborhood Refill.

The storytelling is an interactive storytelling where they focus on a different area in San Antonio. For Round One of the project, they have focused on the city of Dignowity Hill. The story telling includes video interview with members of the community, elected officials, and pictures from the past and present, and facts. These stories discuss the rise and fall of the communities; the history, the crime, and what could happen in the future if change doesn’t happen. The storytelling is broken down into seven episodes. The last episode stresses the importance of civic engagement and citizens having a voice at the table, and introduces their interactive tool the Neighborhood Refill.

The Neighborhood Refill is essentially a public brainstorming tool. Neighborhood Refill is a map of the town of Dignowity Hill. Users have the ability to enter ideas that they have for the community. For instance, some public entries included developing a Mental Health Center or expanding the bike path two blocks. This map shows where vacant lots are and also where entries have already been made. If there is a specific place in mind where a resident wants to provide an idea, they can simply type in the address and it pools up the location. The map also includes ideas from the Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association. Place Changing is hosted an open forum with a panel of local leaders to discuss the ideas provided.

Overall, I think this is an extremely smart and innovative way to engage the community. Using GIS mapping along with storytelling allows Place Changing to capture the audience and then have them to act. It’s the use of quantitative and qualitative data at its best. However, I feel like it may be missing a part of the population by it being an Internet tool and many may not have access to the internet in the community. This project took place a few years ago and they do not give an update or provide an outcome. I am assuming that they did not get the response that they wanted since no other “rounds” were executed.

Check out their website here. 

Technology Spotlight: Utah’s Walking School Bus App

In August 2014, the Utah Department of Transportation’s Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP) launched the “Walking School Bus App”. This mobile app provides a platform for parents to coordinate walking groups for their children to and from school, with the supervision of one or more adults. Parents using the app can create or join existing walking groups with students who live near them. Parents sign into the app, which notifies other parents when the trip to or from school starts and ends. A form of “carless carpool”, this effort purports to reduce traffic and increase safety around school zones[1]. Most of the users and walking groups have been in Salt Lake County, but the app has been used “as far north as Cache County and as far south as Washington County”[2]. The UDOT is hoping that data from the first years of implementation will help provide a baseline for identifying areas where they should focus on, in terms of improving pedestrian and motorist safety.

In 2017, UDOT introduced prizes incentivizing the use of the Walking School Bus App[3]. Those who used the app in the months of March and April, 2017, were automatically entered to win prizes each time they used the app. Prizes included overnight stays and breakfast for parents at Utah’s top ranked bed and breakfast, brunch with the Utah Jazz Bear, $500 for the winning Walking School Bus group’s school, scooters, bikes, and helmets for students, and gift cards for parents in weekly drawings.

Between August 2014 and June 2015, over 500 Walking School Bus groups were created, 91,000 car trips reduced, 88,000 miles walked, 8.8 million calories burned, and 37 million car emissions saved[4]. This app seems to leverage Utah’s social capital to solve a community need, while also positively addressing traffic, public safety, and environmental concerns. Several other communities have followed Utah’s lead in creating their own Walking School Bus programs.

 

[1] http://blog.udot.utah.gov/tag/walking-school-bus-app/

[2] https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865630430/Walking-School-Bus-app-a-huge-success-in-first-year.html

[3] http://fox13now.com/2017/03/21/earn-prizes-for-walking-to-school-with-udot/

[4] http://blog.udot.utah.gov/tag/walking-school-bus-app/

JustServe.org: Building Unity through Community Service

Many citizens feel the need to give back to their communities, get involved in volunteer work, or do something to alleviate local suffering—but they don’t know how. Many community nonprofit organizations and faith groups have great ideas and projects to benefit the needy—but they don’t always have enough volunteers or resources to carry them out. JustServe.org helps to bridge that divide.

JustServe.org is a volunteer matching website with an accompanying mobile app that allows local nonprofit organizations, faith groups, and others to post information about service projects and volunteer opportunities to a central database. Community members can then view the opportunities to serve, learn more about them, and sign up to volunteer.

How does it work for users?

Individuals who are interested in serving their communities can search for opportunities by city name or zip code. Local projects and organizations are listed with pertinent details, such as timeframe (ongoing opportunity or a single-day event), recommended age (adult only, youth only, or family opportunities), location (from-home, indoors, wheelchair accessible, on site, etc.), description of the service needed, link to the sponsoring organization’s website, and contact information for the organization’s reference person. Users can create a JustServe.org account to receive email updates about new opportunities, but registration is not required to browse for service opportunities. JustServe.org is not a social media site; users cannot directly contact the organizations requesting service using the JustServe.org platform.

Organizations or individuals who would like to request volunteers, donations, or other service must register for an account on JustServe.org and submit a project. Their submission is then sent to the local JustServe.org administrator to vet, make clarifying changes if necessary, and publish on the site. Relatively few requirements must be met for projects to be shared on the site; projects must be collaborative, enhance the quality of life in the community, assist the poor and needy, and should avoid having a political or advocacy focus or direct fundraising efforts. Organization representatives can also be made full site administrators, allowing them full, unmoderated access to edit their organization’s content about available projects. Conversely, if organization staff need the support, the local JustServe.org administrator can draft and post content on their behalf.

How does it run on the back end?

The JustServe.org platform and mobile app were created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon church). Specific information about local organizations and service opportunities is updated by volunteer administrators in regions around the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the United Kingdom. These volunteer administrators establish and maintain relationships with the nonprofits and other organizations in their areas and ensure that information on the website remains up to date and accurate.

Who benefits?

Citizens who use the JustServe.org platform benefit by having a free central database where they can find opportunities to serve in their communities. They no longer have to perform random Google searches to find service organizations of dubious credibility. Engaging in community service helps citizens to feel a sense of belonging, build relationships, increase trust in their communities, strengthen mutual understanding of perhaps foreign populations, and become part of improving the quality of life in their surrounding areas.

Organizations benefit from JustServe.org by increasing their volunteer base and building awareness of their missions and services offered. JustServe.org acts as a free marketing tool for credible local organizations that seek to strengthen their communities.

Communities reap the benefits of JustServe.org by enjoying heightened community engagement, greater interactivity in the third sector, and enhanced social capital of a citizen base that is more empowered to be proactive in improving their communities.

 

Spotlight by Debbie Adams, February 1, 2018

Contact for more info at: debbieannadams13@gmail.com