ACCORDING TO a recent report, Californians have new tools that give them greater power to govern themselves than ever before.
Technology is the reason. Often with little public notice, most of California's 5,000 local governments are experimenting with technologies to engage the public and improve services. The sophistication of this use of digital technologies for citizen interaction varies and the benefits are wide-ranging.
For instance, you can go online to have the city police in Santa Clarita check on your home while you're on vacation. In Pebble Beach, you can add yourself to the Community Services District's database of local people that need special assistance in the events of an emergency evacuation. You can schedule a visit to your cousin in jail via the Santa Clara County web site or public kiosks. If you need to appear in court or qualify yourself for social services in Nevada County, you can avoid long lines by finding one of the 60 county video cameras set up for direct conferencing with local government.
To read "Hear Us Now? A California Survey of Digital Technology's Role in Civic Engagement and Local Government," click here. To learn more about the October 26 event at Stanford exploring these findings, please click here.