Online Constituent Services Rolled Out by
City Council Member Kallos for Social Media Week
Software Developer and Council Member Pilots
Online Tools for Accessibility
The Internet – New York City Council Member Ben Kallos rolled out social media from Facebook to Twitter to Skype as well as new applications like AskThem.io and SeeClickFix.com today at a press conference over Google Hangout. On the “Get Help” page of BenKallos.com constituents are presented with more than a dozen ways to get help from their Council Member, mixing old services and new, including: calling, visiting the office, email, web, text, fax, mobile hours, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Skype, AskThem, and SeeClickFix.
“I work for my district and I want to make sure that I am as accessible to residents as possible,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I am using every tool at my disposal, both old and new, to reach out to every person in my district regardless of how they prefer to communicate. Whatever the next big app is, I will be sure to make sure we are using it and listening.”
Kallos has been accepting constituent service requests over social media using Facebook and Twitter and will now be including Instagram so that residents can take a picture of the problem and add the right filter to highlight the problem they are reporting. Residents can text in complaints or send in pictures from their phones using MMS or can Skype the office and see a professional ready to help them.
New platforms are emerging to make it easier to report problems or ask questions and create transparency around the process in order to hold elected officials accountable. Two such tools are AskThem.io and SeeClickFix. Kallos is an early adopter of AskThem.io, a site that allows the public to ask questions of elected officials and sign on to others’ questions. SeeClickFix allows residents to proactively help fix problems in their neighborhoods. Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) already employs SeeClickFix to help deliver services to Roosevelt Islanders.
In addition to online outreach, constituents can reach Kallos by calling, mailing, faxing, or visiting the office. Kallos will also be bringing his office to district five residents through mobile district hours to Roosevelt Island, senior centers, and NYCHA housing to provide constituent service more proactively.
“FDR said that every person should be ‘free from want.’ To me, this means ensuring New Yorkers receive the services they need. I am trying to eliminate the hurt in this world one person at a time,” said Kallos.
Through proactive constituent services, Kallos’ office encourages residents to reach out to determine for which services they are eligible – including services they might not realize they qualify for.
Kallos, who started his term in January of 2014, also hosts monthly “First Fridays” in his office from 8AM to 10AM where residents are invited to join him in person and discuss how to make their neighborhood and city as a whole a better place to live. The event, which has had more than 50 attendees, will recur on Friday, March 7, 2014 and is open to the press.