Unmet Community Info Needs Roundtable: Kim Walesh

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Kim is the Chief Strategist for the City of San Jose and spends a lot of time finding ways to engage the public and disseminate information for them.

Some major challenges they have experienced over the last couple of years:

  • Getting people to care about local community – almost a prerequisite to there being a need to gather information. As San Jose is the largest city in the Bay Area (went from 100k to 1 million in the last 30 years) – it has made it difficult for people to connect.
  • People view themselves as global citizens – see success contributing to global community not as much to their local community.  They also don’t seem to get information from local outlets, like the Mercury News, instead they source it via NY Times, Singapore News, etc. How people get information has complicated ability to engage the local community and made it more expensive for the media outlets. Experimenting with Peak Democracy and The Alliance for Innovation – using Art, employment networks, etc to connect wiht the younger generations (under 35) as they don’t come to ‘traditional’ news sources and seem separated.

On a positive note, San Jose has been a leader in putting the business of the local government on the web with public calendars, videos, archiving of meeting notes, etc. to help get information out there. Also done well in cultivating neighborhood networks, with 22 neighborhoods working to help distribute information within their own local community – solely to determine how they should use their human and financial resources (i.e. should they be buying more books, or more computer terminals for the library?)

This goes a long way towards serving the local needs and interesting to watch leaders and communication networks emerge naturally.

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