Pla­cen­tia is plugged-in

Town keep­ing res­i­dents up-to-date in real time about mu­nic­i­pal events and is­sues

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BYMELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

Mod­ern tech­nol­ogy has been al­low­ing friends, fam­ily, com­mu­ni­ties and or­ga­ni­za­tions to stay con­nected in real time, which is some­thing Pla­cen­tia Mayor Wayne Power Jr. be­lieves is ben­e­fi­cial for his town.

The town has ar­guably the most ac­tive Face­book page in the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia re­gion, and for good rea­son.

“We have been shar­ing a lot of in­for­ma­tion (on­line),” Power told The Com­pass in a phone in­ter­view Tues­day, June 8. “It is help­ing us reach a great num­ber of people.”

Since mu­nic­i­pal aware­ness week in May 2013, coun­cil­lors and staff of the town of some 4,000 have been en­cour­ag­ing res­i­dents to use the In­ter­net to re­ceive in­for­ma­tion about town events, as well as re­ports and up­dates from dif­fer­ent de­part­ments.

Since then, the town’s Face­book page has seen a flurry of ac­tiv­ity and has re­ceived some 1,160 likes.

The town also has a Twit­ter ac­count, which is start­ing to pick up as well.

“It seems very af­fec­tive,” Power said.

Im­por­tant up­dates

The town has been us­ing Face­book for two years now, but it has be­come more im­por­tant this year, said Power.

Dur­ing what many called “dark NL,” Pla­cen­tia re­lied on so­cial me­dia to con­nect with lo­cals.

When the town an­nounced a state of emer­gency in Pla­cen­tia early Jan­uary, when the town’s pump sta­tion wasn’t work­ing and the power was out, de­tails were put on Face­book. The post was shared 36 times.

“We re­ceived good feed­back on keep­ing res­i­dents up to date,” Power ex­plained.

Since then, the town has be­gun post­ing daily mes­sages, en­sur­ing to keep those up­dated who are af­fected by power out­ages, wa­ter shut­offs and other mu­nic­i­pal sit­u­a­tions.

“When we use (so­cial me­dia), res­i­dents are get­ting in­for­ma­tion in real time,” Power said. “Those people start spread­ing it around, even to those with­out (so­cial me­dia ac­counts).”

By up­dat­ing res­i­dents daily, it also pre­vents an over­load of calls com­ing to the town hall.

“We’re not get­ting as many calls for in­for­ma­tion,” Power ex­plained. “If we have a no­tice posted, there are not as many ques­tions.”

But he stresses that there is no re­stric­tion to those want­ing in­for­ma­tion by phone.

“Phone lines are al­ways open,” he said.

Be­sides so­cial me­dia, Power said a new web­site would be launched soon.

“We’re get­ting ready, putting fin­ish­ing touches on our new web­site,” he ex­plained. “Then it will be re­vealed.”

The town’s cur­rent site, www.pla­cen­tia.ca, gives con­tact in­for­ma­tion for staff and some back­ground his­tory of the town. But Power be­lieves the new site will be more user friendly.

“We are striv­ing to keep our web­site cur­rent and ac­ces­si­ble to all res­i­dents,” he said.

The town is also hop­ing to post more pho­tos.

“We’re find­ing lots of people like pic­tures,” Power ex­plained. “We’re hop­ing to set up a photo net­work, like Flickr or some­thing, soon.”

Some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties with ac­tive pub­lic so­cial me­dia ac­counts in the re­gion in­clude: Bay Roberts, Har­bour Grace, Car­bon­ear, Bri­gus, Vic­to­ria, Old Per­li­can, Bay de Verde, New Har­bour and Heart’s Con­tent.

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