Thursday, February 11, 2010

Two Snow Stories

What do people respond to? News and information.

Given the age of Facebook, Twitter, and Blogging, people expect information to be flowing constantly. As long as you have electricity and an internet connection, you can send out information on all these mediums and more.

Throughout snowmageddon, the Port Authority operated a twitter feed under the name @pghtransit. This user often gave updates people didn't like. The news was for a a few days really shitty with only a small fraction of Port Authority buses running. But @pghtransit continuously responded to folks, gave updates, and referred unknown questions to someone who might know the answers. When the Port Authority website was buckling under the weight of thousands of extra users, @pghtransit replicated service updates to the Port Authority blog. Port Authority gained countless amounts of goodwill through this storm.

On the other hand, the city of Pittsburgh claimed the city was plowing at full capacity and shut the hell up. The one access point users had to the city? 311 (when the line was open) which is by its nature a one-way street. There are no personal follow-ups from 311. The one response format? Press conferences from Luke Ravenstahl who assured us that he was doing better.

Why not have someone in the storm center sending out updates on Twitter? So simple. So cheap. Even Port Authority could do it. People don't need to just hear good news, they need all the news. To be fair, @nataliarudiak and @billpeduto did an admirable job of sharing their knowledge and complaining about the city services on twitter this weekend, but unfortunately, they didn't have enough information to actually be helpful to us folks trapped at home.

If you want Port Authority updates, go to twitter, their blog, or their website. If you want to know when your street will finally be plowed, I have no idea. But if you find out, please let me know.

No comments: