The Town of Carrboro received an Award of Excellence in early September from the City-County Communications & Marketing Association's (3CMA) Savvy Awards for the installation of their Town Information Centers.
The award was in the category of Most Creative Activity with Least Dollars Spent.
The Town Information Centers are wooden kiosks that spread information about local events, programs and more. They are designed to provide non-digital means of communications for people who are not connected to social media or email.
The award was presented at the 3CMA national conference held in St. Louis, Missouri on Sept. 9.
3CMA judges said that the Information Centers are “a fantastic alternative for delivering information to the community."
Catherine Lazorko, the communication and engagement director for the Town of Carrboro, said she believes that becoming a visible presence in neighborhoods is important.
“We recognize that not everyone is on social media, on Wi-Fi or able to find information on webpages,” Lazorko said. “This is another avenue to really build relationships and go where the people are.”
Lazorko added that the idea for the kiosks was discussed years ago, but the pandemic initiated execution of the idea. The kiosks allowed for the spread of information about COVID-19 testing, vaccination, food distribution and aid for those facing evictions.
She also discussed future ideas for improving the kiosks, such as installing more, adding information centers to existing structures and improving the relevance of the types of information being shared.
Scott Lehtonen, executive director of 3CMA, said the awards are a results-driven competition. Competing local communities submit a descriptive letter with a problem statement, intended goals or outcomes, documentation of achievement and budget and use of outside resources.
“The Savvy Awards Competition is the best of the best in local government," Lehtonen said. "Entries are evaluated by local government peers from across the country. Having an entry selected as a finalist is truly an honor, as it is being recognized by others in local government."
Four kiosks were built at the price of around $1,400 using money from the CARES Act fund. They aim to reach low-income neighborhoods and improve quality of life by providing services for residents who may not have access to resources through other means.
Recently, surveys were added to the kiosks asking residents what improvements they would like to see for the centers. Suggestions included free Wi-Fi, volunteering opportunities and children’s free book boxes.
Carrboro Town Council member Susan Romaine, who said she had more of a "cheerleader role" in the project, said she saw people reading the posted information while taking walks this summer.
“These kiosks are being used," Romaine said. "There were two different times when I had stopped to read the flyers that had been posted on the kiosks when I noticed that somebody was behind me. As I left, they had come in to read the flyers."
Romaine added the kiosks are providing important information in neighborhoods where not every citizen has internet access.
“It’s not about the award," Lazorko said. "It’s about serving the community."
Kiosks are located in Rocky Brook Manufactured Home Park, the Oakwood public housing community, along Rock Haven Road and in the Pine Grove Mobile Home Park.
For more information or to leave feedback on the centers, email firstname.lastname@example.org.