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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

The podcast is brought to you by work. People are moving to cities seeking community in the opportunity to be part of something greater than themselves to create their life's work. We work answers this call by providing the space services and community that people need to make a life and not just living by helping create economic growth and opportunity in our neighborhoods and cities, whether you're an entrepreneur, a local small business owner or a fortune five hundred exac checkout, we work dot com to learn how we work as helping people companies and cities thrive. You know, I sit on a bunch of city boards here. Now, Andrea gold star for civic engagement. Thanks anyway last year, I joined the board of our transit agency. It's called dash. We're gonna have to make some big decisions this year, potentially even cutting back on some bus routes, and we're gonna really need to understand kind of where the community is on this before we make a decision that big. So I asked the dash staff like, hey, guys. Like, what are we doing on? In public engagement turns out there doing a lot. They've got feet on the street. They're jumping on buses and talk into bus riders. They're going to the metros in the morning. And they're and they're talking to folks there they're doing public meetings across the city over like a several month period. And they have an online survey that they've gotten like a thousand people to fill out. So I like the sounds pretty good. But but then I step back. I'm thinking, wait a second. We're city of a hundred and fifty thousand people we've got a quarter million writers month, we're only talking to like a fraction of the public. And so I say this board meeting. Recently as a guys are we doing enough here because I'm worried we're gonna miss some important perspective before we make this decision and their silence around the table. And I looked down at one of the more experienced board members. And he's looking at me, and he says guys in a few months, we're going to make a decision, and they're going to be a bunch of angry people who are going to say, you didn't ask for opinion. You guys made a mistake. And he said it's inevitable. So get ready for it. That's so depressing. You know? I hear the same thing for my friends in San Francisco city government, they're so jaded about the public participation process because they only hear from the same people over and over again, and they're like this just isn't working, right? But I mean can't cities do a better job to connect with everyone. The same way that companies and other organizations do on our under smartphones on social media, you know, on our apps by tweeting us that would seem like a good idea. But it does beg the question. The tech may be a convenient way to reach us. But is it a good way to reach us? I mean can the tech actually get better feedback for more city residents? Let's head to feedback city and find out today. Technopol stay with us. Welcome to Teknaf Lous for technology is disrupting remaking and sometimes over running our cities. I'm Molly Turner. I teach urban innovation at the Berkeley Haas school of business. And I was the first policy director at Airbnb, and I'm Jim caps. I was climate negotiators in the Obama administration. And now advice tech startups. Today's episode we're going to talk about how both tech and cities are trying to bridge the communications gap between city leaders, and the people they serve the problem goes both ways how can cities listen more carefully to the constituents. So they can tell them when big things are happening and keep them informed. And how can we be sure to the messages reach everybody and not just a select few to learn more about how folks are tackling this problem. We've got two great guests today later in the show. We're going to hear what it's like to run a city in this digital age for mayor NAN Whaley of Dayton, Ohio. She's trying to engage her constituents all one hundred forty thousand of them in a lot of places, including on their porches. And on Facebook. But I I really want to hear your conversation with Al fater the urban planner turned tech entrepreneur who founded zen city the civic engagement platform for local governments. Yes, spoke to him from Tel Aviv. And you know, we talked at length, but let me give you a quick summary of what sensiti actually does. So they're basically this platform that is taking a look at and collecting all of the public comments that we make on social media about how we feel about every aspect of the city and every comment we make on a new site. That's public. But then they also looking at you know, every three one one call that we make every Email that we send to the city they're tracking. And they're aggregating all of those comments both what we're saying directly to the city, and what we're telling our friends about the city and deriving insights and the sharing that with the city's. So they can better understand what the public actually thinks about a given topic any moment in time. So let's play the tape visiting. What we do is. We automatically cag- each piece of information. Whether it's comment or a report, three alone, we tag that. With first of all subjects core. What city services this has to do with to like waste management or potholes or whatever that day, okay, or God forbid gun violence or live music shows. Then the second score we give it is sentiment score or satisfaction score. Basically this positive negative or neutral feedback about this issue. Is it saying something good, something bad or something? That's neutral like a question to what percentage of the data that you're looking at comes from social media versus a three will one system versus just looking at the news or comments on new sites is break it down for us a little bit but varies a little bit. I'd say somewhere between fifty and seventy percent of our data social media now. That's a lot out of that. Yes. It is in about an out of that about eighty percent is outside of the city's official accounts about ten to twenty percent would be comments on the city's counting. The others would be other public domain, social what problems? Do you hear most often from mayors and other city leaders like what what are they? Most worried about that they think or hope you will help them solve the one thing that is very interesting to feel that today the are hearing the loud voices instead of the that over and over one of those city managers we work with calls a s same ten people. Ten people. Yeah. The one the folks who show up to every city city hall public hearing, I tend to sometimes too. I know I know hundred talking about and they feel like that's the only voice their hearing. And this creates one of three problems either they start to be very cynical about public participation. They say like, we can't get an honest opinion from our politic because we keep on hearing voices, or at least the city actually acting on those very specific loud voices and a changing their changing their preferences based on that. And that is the problem that a lot of city measures. Mayors have a approach with Okinawa's have any cities changed their policy. The response to the feedback that you've given them. Could you give us an example or give you an example from the city in Israel, working city of the city of stood? It's the biggest cities here in Israel about two hundred fifty thousand people and they ruled out what's called a BART or bus rapid transient. Basically. This means that they take a laying off a lot of the main roads, turn it into transit only block it with the physical barrier. And as they rolled it out. We could tell them the conversation around it was super negative like supernova around ninety percent of the comments around his project where negative the more. Interesting part is that as the sock over station continued to be to be negative over the next couple of weeks that they tracked it this started to be a problem right council. Members started knocking the mayor's door and saying like, hey, my constituents hate this product. You have the council that you have to change it. You have to realize when the city saw that the conversation remained negative the actually use us to look into the data in that really understand not only if the sentiment positive or negative, but why is the sentiment? What are the main issues that people are actually complaining about what does the main problem and to their surprise one of the most common complaints across all the sources. We were tracking was the people didn't understand the purpose of this project. Wow. So fundamentally, they just didn't get it. Yeah. Exactly. The things they're worried about is that they don't understand why we're investing our resources in this why we're calling traffic delays. Let's try to communicate to them or catchable Bennett. Did they did they turn things around? In response. They rolled out a completely new communication strategy. The only about tangible benefit yet within ten minutes from city centre to the beach. Best bus stations in the country. Retires more seats on every bus things that are, you know, super tangible people could see why they were doing this and within just a few weeks conversation change from ninety percent negative about seventy percent positive the level of conversation about it went down significantly. So overall sentiment in the city went back to its normal levels, the showed support in positive feedback are some people upset by the idea. The city's wa. Watching them surveying people's sentiments on social media, and I guess and other other areas how do you deal with that? That's something. We're very very sensitive to I think one of the things we pride ourselves on is being super privacy aware. All of our data is completely anonymous and aggregated there is no way to get back to the specific person posting we actually don't know way. Wait, how do you? How do you do that? Help us understand. How you do that first of all we don't keep any any personal data at all when we take from three on one. We don't even pull of that information the city records, like the names phone number of the people reporting the thrown on in our analysis. We don't take that those pieces than the only thing the content of the report, and we do the same social media. We don't keep the names of users posting or anything like that. And we even go one step further to run algorithms over the texts and anonymous any names that might be mentioned in them or personal information. We want to be looking at trends numbers at changes over time. You don't wanna see, you know, here's a specific. Person reporting specific pothole industry would wouldn't mayors. Ask for that. You're you're just like we can't do that demographic information behind the data. We collect. So what is the actual breakdown of the comment of the demographics behind the comments, we analyzed, and because we're so privacy where when you have no information about us or posting. We can only say where the conversation came from jersey outlet with the. We can't say anything about the user posting against the privacy useless. So