I think I remember when the City of Reno started offering email alerts of various city activities. The alerts range from street closures to Neighborhood Advisory Board meeting agendas to downtown events. It was a big step for the city to inform citizens on a huge range of things. I signed up immediately and chose the items I wanted to receive in my email.
Times have changed a bit. While never perfect, it was acceptable at the time to receive those emails just about daily. I suspect I’m not much different than a lot of you out there when I say that my email box is getting a bit overloaded. And believe me, I just don’t get all that many, but they’re still too many. I only have time for the most important emails in the inbox and the rest get relegated to the weekends. Plus, there isn’t much more annoying than an email containing a PDF file that could have been pasted into the email itself. As a result, I rarely even see what’s happening at my NAB meeting and I only know what streets are closed because if one I use is closed, I see that.
Reno needs to modernize just a bit more and start feeding the information through RSS. I spend a lot of time on the computer reading my RSS feeds. It’s where I get all the news and information that’s important to me. And an increasing number of you are doing the same thing (at least my visitor logs tell me that). Every morning I wake up and check the RSS feeds of my favorite sites. If the city’s alerts were sent that way, it’d be just like if I had picked up a newspaper put out by the city with all of their relevant information. The feeds could list events, meeting agendas, and street closures. They could even link right back to the cool little map they have showing road situations.
If the city doesn’t have any idea how to implement the change, there is a pretty cool local company that sort of specializes in this type of thing. Think of the press release — er — blog entry that announces that Reno has contracted with a local company to make all information put out by the city available through RSS. It’d be awesome. And it would make Reno an example for other cities across the state and region.
The point of RSS is to let people decide how they want their information. I don’t want to navigate myself to the city’s site to look for that map. I want to tell the internet one time that I’m interested and have the internet send me that map every time it is updated. The technology is here and it’s easy to use. Let’s embrace it.