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In 2011, Pew Research found that only 35% of American adults owned a smartphone. Just three years later, smartphone ownership has nearly doubled to 58%, with 90% of American adults owning some type of cell phone.

Pew Research also found in 2013 that 72% of all online American adults use social media sites like Facebook, up from only 8% in 2005. Even President Obama is "hip to all these things"; he's hosted Twitter chats, Google+ hangouts, a live Q&A on Tumblr, and an "Ask Me Anything" thread on Reddit.

But this increased connectedness doesn't necessarily translate to increased engagement on a local level. Especially in a sprawling, decentralized city like Los Angeles, growing a sense of community has proven difficult.

Our voter turnout has been absolutely abysmal. In our last election on June 4, 2014, L.A. County's turnout was only 17%, the lowest of any county in California. And only 25.1% of all registered Californians voted, according to the secretary of state records. If that number stays below 28% at the end of the 28-day canvass, it will be a new low in California's history since 1914, as Capitol Weekly points out.

In a measure of volunteerism rates, Los Angeles was ranked 46th out of the largest 51 metro areas in the U.S., according to the LA2050 project, citing a 2011 study by the National Conference on Citizenship. "Compared to the nation, Angelenos are less likely to be involved in groups, less likely to engage in organizational activism, less likely to vote, less likely to be engaged in faith-based organizations, less likely to socialize informally, and less likely to be trusting," writes LA2050, citing a 2003 study by the USC Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy Research.

Community organizations already know that engaging the communities of Los Angeles will require ingenuity, teamwork, and persistence. But how does technology fit into the picture? How can we use mobile technologies, i.e. text messaging, apps, to engage and connect with our communities? Tell us in the "Responses" tab above.

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