The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 10, 2013

Mankato uses social media to deliver news, info

MANKATO — Are you interested in how many city snowplows are out at this very moment? Looking for an easier way to pay utility bills and parking citations online? Curious how much wastewater the city generated last year?

You’re in luck: The city of Mankato is expanding its online presence, both in information delivered and money collected.

It’s now more convenient to make online payments, thanks to a “shopping cart” feature developed by city staff, Assistant City Manager Tanya Ange said. That means you can do all your online transactions at once.

The city also is looking at options to expand the site to include payments for building permits and other licenses.

The city also recently added two ways to get information out, one a quick read for busy drivers and another for those looking for a little more depth.

The Twitter feed Mankato Streets (@MktoStreets) is a near real-time update about Mankato’s roads. For example, this Tweet went out Tuesday morning: “7 trucks will be out @ 7 am focusing on hills and major routes. #mktosnow.”

It’s only “near” real-time now because department directors have to approve the messages. But as front-line staff such as plow drivers become more familiar with Twitter, they will be able to post themselves, Ange said.

In the spring, messages about plowing will be replaced with warnings about street reconstruction and detour recommendations.

Ange also noted the city accepts camping reservations online, and now is a good time to pick a spot.

The city has long issued press releases about roads, such as when they close or water pipes burst, but the Twitter feed allows the city to be more direct with its updates, bypassing the media, and more frequent.

“We want to put it out in real time, so that it’s helpful to residents, business and also our visitors,” Anges said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News