transitFAIL: Using social media to make things better
Welcome to Fail Week here on PlanningPool! All week we will be bringing you information about bad planning, lack of planning, and planning generally gone awry.
At PlanningPool, we’re big fans of Twitter, because it’s a tool that combines the less high-tech (cell phones) with the more high tech (internet) and gets people in touch with each other. For planning, Twitter can be used as a public engagement tool, like with Portland’s @PDXplan. Twitter can also be used to mobilize people, as was famously done with the Iran elections.
One of the more complicated aspects of Twitter are hashtags. Hashtags are words preceded by the hash symbol, #, like #transitFAIL. The purpose of a hashtag is to organize informtion and people. They are often used to Tweet about current events, conferences, quotes, activities, memes, and other things. Mashable has a good explanation about how they work.
So what does Twitter have to do with Fail Week? One of my favorite planning-related hashtags is #transitFAIL. The purpose of #transitFAIL is to publicize where public transportation fails its customers and users. It’s a particularly effective tool, because you can use SMS messaging or use a web-enabled smartphone to instantaneously tell the world about how transit just let you down. Some smartphones can even take photos or videos and upload them to Twitter, too.
Smart transit providers will use this feedback to improve their service and see where the problems are. I’d like to see transit providers use Twitter to notify people about service changes or delays, too.
While you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to follow us, too! We’re @planningpool.