The document, available online for free, shows several examples in which the Generalitat (Catalonia’s regional government) knew how to get the most from the Internet and its various communication tools.
One of the pillars of a true Smart City is the concept of ‘Smart Governance’: a proactive, flexible way of working with the citizens and getting them in the know about projects or measures whether they are ongoing or under way, by using communication channels that are easily accessible and usually two-ways, thus allowing the citizens to get in touch with their representatives or send their questions directly to them. Only Governments and institutions that can fully exploit the capacities of social networks and use them as more than mere billboards will be able to truly consider themselves and brand themselves as ‘Smart’.
Catalonia´s Generalitat has paid quite a lot of attention to the social media and networks over the past years and, in an effort to showcase the positive effects that the use o Smart Governance can have for institutions and citizens alike, the local Government launched the book “20 cases of successful use of social networks by the Generalitat of Catalonia”, which is now available for free at their website. As the introduction clearly states, the Generalitat understands that online communication channels with the citizens can be “a new way to manage public affairs, which, on one hand, gives the citizen a higher degree of control over the public powers through Open Data, transparency and compromise; and on the other, allows for a very necessary participation and collaboration from the citizens to set the course on this new style of governance”.
The book reviews communication efforts carried through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, Flickr and Wordpress, among other digital channels.
Many of these campaigns aimed to engage the citizens and to enlist them on several social or environmental causes. For example, the Generalitat successfully used Twitter to increase the number of blood donors in times of low supplies, or created a YouTube channel to allow its Waste Management Agency to publish their own multimedia campaigns and ads.
The Generalitat also used social networks to send vital information to the citizens. The Twitter profiles that the Generalitat and the Govern frequently use serve to inform about prices changes on public services or about upcoming legal changes. However, these channels have also been used to help the citizens through difficult times, as the Generalitat did with the campaign #DesactivaElControl (Deactivate Control) that listed the phone lines and centers available for women who were victims of abuse, both young and adult.
In all of these cases, the book displays detailed charts that show the amount of followers gained by each successive campaign, the amount of positive reactions and the changes that were performed mid-campaign. For example, the Twitter profile Band de Sang (Blood Bank, @donarsang) is often updated if many citizens express their doubs about the available donor spots, offering alternatives.
Promoting Catalonia and its institutions
Social networks have also been of use for the Generalitat to promote tourism in a more responsable, open manner, using the Facebook profile Catalunya Experience so that future visitors and tourists could freely ask their doubts about the prices of public transports, the opening times of several points of interest, or to inform about festivities and events that could be held during peak seasons or weeks for tourism.
Both the Generalitat and the Govern, as well as the many institutions working under these organisms (such as the aforementioned Waste Management Agency or the Catalonian Health Institute) have frequently used social networks to publish the changes or improvements in recycling rates, the number of yearly traffic accidents or the crime rates, as well as uploading links to press conferences or declarations made by government officials. This allows the ctizens to be aware of their Government´s actions and the effectiveness of the measures implemented, and thus use this information to evaluate their representatives or ask for more efforts if need be.
Leading by example
The Generalitat and its institutions have recognized the communication and engagement potential that lies in social networks, and as this book can prove, they have become an example of the use of social networks to develop campaigns and strategies on an institutional level. These messages are often published in several languages (Spanish, Catalan and English) so that no one is left out, and many of these accounts have over a dozen thousand followers. The FB profile Catalunya Experience reached the staggering amount of half a million followers this year, Twitter´s GenCat profile has over a hundred thousand, and the blog Gestió del Coneixement (Management of Knowledge) hit 70.000 followers earlier this year. Barcelona´s new mayor, Ada Colau, has proved that she is familiar with social networks as wel, and often publishes messages and statements on her Facebook profile. There is no doubt that the rest of her team and the new City Council will continue to use social networks with the same efficiency.
The book is currently only available in Catalan, but will be translated soon. To download the book, follow this link.