Mr. Roboto Calls

Aurorans have been assured that service levels are inline and we are getting good value for our tax dollars.

Yet it has been discovered that,as recently as the beginning of this year, the Town of Aurora is operating with a severely outdated crisis communication plan:

A plan that crippled the town’s communication efforts through the winter snowstorm as well as waste collection delays by broadcasting on some Muzak station on the FM band instead of a news station that the majority of residents would tune in to.

At the town’s budget meeting of Monday January 13th there was reference to the town exploring and adopting robocalls as a means to communicate with residents.

At a later council or committee meeting I recall Clr. Abel commenting on the idea and generally supporting it.

Common in Federal and Provincial elections Robocalls are starting to show up at the municipal level. Toronto’s mayor has used them and last October they were used with mixed results in Airdrie Alberta:

Rob Wallace’s post here delves into pros, cons and best practices:

Wallace’s perspective is very informing, and above all else was this point:

These systems (and/or services where available) can represent a valuable tool with which to build a technology-savvy and effective “smart town.” That presupposes the existence of a chief town technology officer (CTTO) or an equally savvy and empowered architect.

Aurora doesn’t have either.

The town does employ a compliment of 4 fulltime and 1 part time staff to execute its Communications.

Operating costs have increased $200,000 over this term of council and are close to $600,000.

The irony of ironies there has been no communication since this significant fumble as to when the town’s communication crisis plan will be brought up to date.

The town appears overwhelmed in delivering a website update which has now spanned 3.5 years and consistently and completely botches their social media presence.

Who are we to expect them to shore up these newly discovered deficiencies in a timely fashion?

It might be just as well that on Monday March 31st the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission reaffirmed its automatic calling rules that stipulate robocalls cannot be made to numbers on the registered on the national do-not-call-list:

From the FAQ’s of the list: the town doesn’t look to be included as an exempt-able party.

Therefore I hardly see any justification in pursuing robocalls as a useful communication tool.

There are several others that should be pursued.

Unfortunately that would require "doing the jobs that nobody wants to…

…Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto"


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