Seattle launches open archive of City’s social media networks

Social media has transformed civic engagement. Cities like Seattle are using social media to share information, engage with residents, and deliver services more quickly and effectively than ever before – but accessing past social media content can be a challenge.

Detailed searches of the City’s social media sites are now possible through a centralized, free and open portal powered by ArchiveSocial, which works with hundreds of government agencies and private companies to capture and archive information shared on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

This new social media archive lets you relive some of your favorite moments from City history, like Kitty Hall, the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory parade, or Seattle’s farewell to the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Accessible on the Seattle Municipal Archives’ website, the archive captures social activity – posts and comments – going back to the City’s very first posts, creating a comprehensive set of records. The archive is in beta as additional City accounts are added.

“While all content on the City’s social media platforms is considered a public record, searching for it can be tedious,” said Michal Perlstein, who leads Seattle IT’s Public Engagement Services team, which works with City departments to improve public-facing digital communications. “Wouldn’t it be great to enter search terms and get the social media results you’re looking for instead of manually sifting through the vast amounts of data across the City’s social media accounts?”

The archive features more than 223,600 (and counting) publicly searchable posts, photos, and videos compiled from 114 City of Seattle social media accounts – from parks, to public safety, to public utilities, to public officials.

“By implementing a social media archive, we’re bringing increased usability and transparency to the City’s digital communications,” said Perlstein. “The archive also helps the City comply with records retention policies and streamlines responses to public information requests.”

Seattle Information Technology’s Public Engagement Services team has been leading an effort to streamline the City of Seattle’s social media presence. The process has included standardizing the visual identity across dozens of City department accounts, updating policies, and launching the social media archive.

The archive is another tool that helps advance Seattle’s commitment to providing greater transparency into its data. The City also maintains an open data portal; a web analytics dashboard; and Performance Seattle, a centralized dashboard designed to track the progress of major City initiatives across seven priority areas.