Thursday, April 4th, 2013
According to the Associated Press, the city of Los Angeles has just released a smartphone app that will allow citizens to communicate even more directly and efficiently with their government. The app will allow residents to report potholes, pay city bills, and look up dog parks—among other things—from their smart phones. “Instead of calling 311 to report problems,” the AP writes, “residents can use the app. They can even snap photos to accompany reports of potholes or graffiti.”
The folks at Via Meadia, Walter Russell Mead’s blog for the American Interest, have high hopes for what technology like this can mean for the future of engaged citizenship:
This will give Los Angeles residents just a taste of the governance of the future. Instead of waiting in long lines and navigating chaotic bureaucracies, Americans will be able to take care of their civic business from anywhere.
This is a minor little gee-whiz technology story, but it does point to a larger truth which tends to get lost in the shrill partisan debates: it’s not so much a question of whether we should have big government or small government as much as it is a question of how do we get a smart government. We need a government that is both more efficient and more responsive to the needs of an increasingly busy population.
In addition to being more responsive, smart governments would streamline the delivery of basic services, allowing us to invest money and time in more productive areas of the economy. Rather than tying up our resources in bloated bureaucracies, governments will have the ability to spend money on things that actually help people.