Jun, a small Andalusian town founded by the Romans 2,200 years ago, is using Twitter to reduce bureaucracy, serve its citizens, and run a more efficient administration.
Mayor José Antonio Rodríguez Salas (@JoseantonioJun) has encouraged all Jun residents to get a Twitter account to communicate easily with the town government. That way they can report issues about public services and infrastructure, send suggestions, participate in the town decisions and “talk” to the mayor and council members directly.
Jun [pronounced “Hoon”] is one of several commuter towns around the provincial capital of Granada and has a population of 3,800. Its local economy depends heavily on Granada but also has a long tradition of pottery.
The town prides itself on making use of the latest technology to streamline the administration and provide efficient public services. But this isn’t its first foray. It had already made history in December 1999 when it declared internet access a basic public service and universal right for its citizens.
In the past two municipal elections, the mayor persuaded all the political parties to run their campaigns “virtually,” without printing posters, and as a result saved the town thousands of euros.
Twitter is used for all town services, including the street sweeper, who can be called by residents if they see something that needs cleaning. In order to use the services residents are required to have a Twitter account in their name (a third of them now have one) and register it at the town hall, so town employees know they’re dealing with actual residents. The town also provides free training courses to any residents who are not confident about using the technology.
All public employees have a Twitter account, including the town’s police officer (@PoliciaJun), the town electrician, and the street sweeper (@BarredoraJun). Mayor Rodríguez Salas, who has been in the town’s government since 1991 and became mayor in 2005, personally answers his account, which has over 350,000 followers, more than the mayors of Madrid, New York and Barcelona.
With such high citizen participation the mayor was able to reduce the police force from four officers down to just one. He is very proud of reducing bureaucracy to the minimum and doing all the paperwork on Twitter.
The town’s success using Twitter has not gone unnoticed by the social media giant and, earlier this year, it sent its chief data scientist MIT professor Deb Roy to investigate how Twitter can be used to run the entire town. Jun was also visited by Twitter’s former CEO Dick Costolo last April.
Professor Roy was impressed with the town’s commitment to use the best available tools to serve its residents and with how Twitter has become a suitable platform for small towns and communities.
“Jun is the exception rather than the rule, with a very committed and technologically confident mayor who has pursued this project for 16 years,” Roy recently told The Guardian. “He has ensured that Twitter has replaced paperwork but not human interaction; the town hall still buzzes with people and he is very visible in the town.”
To show the town’s commitment to Twitter, its central roundabout is adorned with the Twitter logo on top of an obelisc. Mayor Rodríguez Salas also has a big Twitter logo on the wall of his office.
Probably Twitter is not powerful enough for larger cities as an administration platform, but it could help city neighborhoods and communities be more efficient and better connected.
2,200-year-old Andalusian town runs on Twitter