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By GCN Staff

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LAFD leverages Web 2.0 tools

No budget for expanding information services to the public? No problem, said Ron Myers, public information officer at the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD).

LAFD has marshaled a variety of essentially free Web-based services to add dynamic content to sites linked to the department's otherwise static Web site. The services also allow LAFD to provide a steady stream of photos, alerts, videos and other content.

LAFD, for instance, is using a combination of Flickr, the photo-sharing Web site, and Really Simple Syndication feeds to post photographs of fires ' many still in progress, such as the one last week on Universal Studios' back lot ' which are then syndicated or delivered for display on a blog linked to LAFD's Web page.

Simarly, LAFD is using Google's Web-based Blogger software with FeedBurner, an RSS feed recently acquired by Google, to deliver news and Podcasts not only to its own site but also to a growing number of other Web sites and blogs. The blog allows LAFD to proactively publish details about fire outbreaks and other department news.

Myers estimated that by notifying a core group of between 300 and 400 sites about new content ' with those sites similarly syndicating content to other users ' as many as 20,000 sites ultimately publish LAFD content.

LAFD is also using Twitter and Jott to alert subscribers to fire emergencies. Twitter, the micro-blogging service that delivers Short Message Service text to cell phones and instant messaging via the Web, has allowed the department to send quick notices, details and links to fire department employees and the public.

Jott allows LAFD to convert voice messages to text and deliver the messages to subscribers. Those messages make their way back to the LAFD's Web site, again using RSS feeds.

As part of the department's outreach, it is using BlogTalkRadio, which facilitates online public discussions including call-in shows. It's also using information podcasts and mapping mashups in addition to a variety of Google tools, which generally are available at no cost, including:
  • YouTube ' to provide training videos and public-service announcements.
  • Google Translation ' which converts LAFD Web site information into multiple languages, including Chinese, Korean and Spanish.
  • Google Alert ' which can populate information on blogs, e-mail lists and other services.
  • Google Group (along with Yahoo Groups) ' which helps assemble user groups and e-mail lists.

Myers spoke June 3 at the Government Leadership Summit held in Williamsburg, Va. The conference was produced by GCN's parent company, 1105 Government Information Group.

Posted by Wyatt Kash on Jun 03, 2008 at 9:39 AM


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