Come April, Detroit City Council plans to Skype their public meetings. According to the Detroit Free Press, "City Council plans to allow Skype users a chance to address members with a Web cam during the public comment period of regular meetings," Steve Neavling reports. Detroiters with a web cam or networked cell phone (e.i. iPhone, Android, etc.) can contribute comments to City Council meetings mobily.
This could be an interesting development in the realm of messaging & technology, one of the Center for 21st Century Communities' (21c3)'s "eight assets" that make for vibrant communities. Many government agencies and public officials across the U.S. are getting more into social networking and web communications sites like Skype. I recently blogged about how Facebook changed its terms of service to make it easier for State and local governments to join.
Council President Charles Pugh told the Free Press he "expects the technology to spur more interest in local government among young people, who rarely attend meetings and are the least likely group to vote," in Neavling's own words. Depending on how much the public ends up taking advantage of the option to comment through Skype, it could potentially encourage more Detroit residents to participate in City Council meetings - young and old. "In a city of 750,000 people, fewer than a dozen residents typically speak out during the comment period," according to the Free Press.
Jennifer Eberbach is a professional journalist and writer. Find contact information on her website www.jenthewriter.info.