Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A modest proposal...

Well, not really so modest. ;-)

Actually, I want to record what I think is a darn good idea I came up with at FooCamp in late August in a session with Andrew McLaughlin, deputy chief technology officer for the Obama administration. Andrew was asking a small group of interested attendees for ideas on how to quickly disseminate time sensitive information about flu preparedness to ALL Americans - not just those people who are online. My suggestion: work with our nations retailers: food, drug and warehouse, to use their checkout couponing systems to spread the word.

Most merchants use computerized registers, and many retailers - especially large ones - print out coupons on your receipt based on what you've just purchased. For example, if you buy diapers you get a coupon for baby wipes. If you buy beer and hot dogs you get a coupon for BBQ charcoal and chips. Not every retailer gives you coupons; some print out their return policy, or info on an upcoming sales instead of a coupon, but the point is that their registers can print messages on each receipt.

This method won't reach everyone. People who live in areas not served by retail chains, most notably the low income inner city, and the far rural west and midwest will likely be missed. Some fill-in with broasdcast media, coupled maybe even direct mail will be needed to reach *everyone*, but using this medium should get relevant information into the hands of the vast majority of Americans within a week.