Mayor Launches Philly’s Own Social Media Website

Mayor Nutter (or should we say, @Michael_Nutter) announced the launch today of Philadelphia’s own social networking website.

“The way the world communicates is changing and seems to evolve on a daily basis,” he said at a press conference today announcing the launch of the site, Philly.changeby.us, which will be a platform for individuals to communicate with city leaders, civic groups, and each other. “Our administration will seek to be on the forefront of those changes,” he said.

“People can come together to get things done,” he added, before screening a public service announcement outlining the purpose of the site: a user posts an idea, and through an algorithm that person is connected to other people and organizations who have the same, or similar, ideas. Ideally, people will be able to hook up on projects, reducing redundancy and making it easier for citizens to get projects done.

The natural next step after using Twitter and Facebook for announcements concerning snowstorms and hurricanes, the Mayor wants Philly.changeby.us to streamline community engagement, by being “an interactive social media tool to connect with city officials, community organizations and other citizens to share ideas,” he said.

The site centers on the tags “smarter, safer, cleaner, greener,” and one of the benefactors who made the site possible, the Knight Foundation, will award mini-grants, totaling $25,000, to people who have good ideas pertaining to those concepts. The grant applications will be available on the site.

That’s the incentive to use the tool, but it’ll be for anyone who’s interested in seeing Philadelphia become “smarter, safer, cleaner, greener.” It’s a tool to facilitate discussion, and hopefully, action.

Philadelphia is the second city to use the Change.by.us platform, after New York City, where it’s been used for projects like urban agriculture, community gardens, and a chicken coop in the Bronx that educates children about where their food comes from, said co-creator Jake Barton.

The mayor was approached by the non-profit Code for America earlier this year, since he’s attracted renown as a tweeting, social-media-driven city leader. Philadelphia applied for a grant for the site, which is funded by the Knight and Rockefeller foundations. Now the platform will be free to use for any city or town in America, thanks to a $100,000 grant from Rockefeller Foundation, along with others.

The site is “a move (toward) open and transparent participatory government,” said Desiree Bell, Director of Communications and Strategic Partnerships. She said it’s part of the mayor’s digital vision, using the internet to get up close and personal with his people.

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