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Sandy goes digital to engage residents

Published September 11, 2013 10:58 am

SandyNow! • New electronic dashboard gives people access on the go and allows feedback.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan on Wednesday unveiled the city's new digital communications dashboard dubbed SandyNow!

From a conference room in City Hall, Dolan used a webcam to livestream information about the new citizen-city connection that utilizes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, bi-monthly newsletters, a website called SandyNow.com and television broadcasts on Channel 17 to keep residents informed and engaged.

"SandyNow! is the way government should be communicating with its residents," Dolan said. "It embraces technology using integrated social media, online interactive tools, mobile technology, video storytelling and traditional means — all to better engage you as residents."

The new digital tool also allows feedback, Dolan said, making communication with residents an interactive, two-way street.

Dolan believes that such use of technology not only is cost-effective but also makes for better governing.

Sandy hired Communications Director Nicole Martin about eight months ago to implement the new tools. Martin had formerly used social media in Herriman to keep residents updated about the status of wildfires that threatened their homes and neighborhoods.

Martin expressed the frustration that government entities feel when citizens fail to participate in the old traditional ways.

"We have budget meetings that no one shows up to, City Council meetings where the only ones who show up are the Scouts," Martin said. "But local government decisions affect people most directly. Are we doing all we can to get information out, understanding that people have busy lives?"

Sandy will publish a printed newsletter to residents every other month, but by going online to http://www.sandynow.com, people can personalize the ways they wish to access information via electronic gadgets.

"If I'm a busy soccer mom, I can go on my smartphone or iPad and read about the trails, how to protect myself against property crime" and more, Martin said. "I can be completely in the know with the time that I have. That's the beauty of it."

cmckitrick@sltrib.com

Twitter: @catmck