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A Look Into the Future

December 14, 2015  |  Jason Wright
After nearly six years, I’m ending my career at the City of Milton to pursue new opportunities. As part of my transition, I will also end this column after more than two years.

It’s truly been an honor to work with the Georgia Municipal Association on Public Information. I’ve learned a tremendous amount by interacting with communications professionals across the state. The inspiring work being done in communities of all sizes across the state never ceases to amaze me, and I’ve been glad to be a part of the push for more transparency.

That said, I want to take a look into the future and let you know where I think things might be headed. Hopefully, this will give you some insight into where to focus your resources and experience moving forward. 

First, I think the major improvement we have yet to experience is not necessarily in technology tools, but in the implementation or utilization of them with in-person or analog methods to produce a hybrid model of interaction and engagement.

By this I mean demonstrating financial transparency tools, or GIS-based user interfaces, at popular existing programs like parks and recreation or festivals. This stuff can’t just live online, because only a certain segment of the population is passionate enough to seek out these tools.

Instead, we have to plug in solutions where busy people already congregate. For instance, why couldn’t we help people pay their taxes with demonstrations or kiosks at football games or town festivals? We know they’re there – we just have to present the slolution to them in that environment.

I’m also excited to see the new ways the sheer amount of data produced by open, transparent governments or agencies can be combined to produce deeper understanding. By this I mean more than combining county restaurant health scores with Yelp. Instead, I’m talking about school systems, local governments, private industry and volunteers producing comprehensive solutions to seemingly intractable problems.

It’s not idealistic to think that someday soon we’ll see children with everyday access to the absolute best thinking in the world, and to them it won’t be strange. It will simply be part of their environment, a natural resource they use like water.

For centuries access to knowledge has been power, and we’re fundamentally altering that paradigm in profound ways. I think you’re already seeing watershed moments – the invention of crowdfunding, the utilization of games for faster, better scientific research, free, open access to ivy-league quality instruction – that portend a future rich with possibility.

I can’t wait to see what we come up with.

And that’s how I’ll end my time here at the Georgia Municipal Association. I hope you found the column informative and entertaining, and hopefully our paths will cross again very soon. Thank you very much for your time.
Jason Wright is Communications Manager for the Georgia Tech Research Library. Up until November 2015, he was the Director of Innovation and Engagement for the City of Milton where he oversaw all aspects of the city's branding and communications efforts, including transparency, automation, design, photography, printing, web services and social media and public outreach.

Prior to Milton, Wright spent seven years working in the magazine and newspaper business. Most recently he was editor of both the Milton Herald and Alpharetta–Roswell Revue and News, where he wrote, edited, photographed for and oversaw design of the weekly papers. Prior to that, he worked as a writer, editor, designer and photographer for local, regional and national publication.