Improve the Online Presence of Local Government, Implement Advanced Website Features, and Improve Civic Engagement
GOAL: Improve the functionality and accessibility of the website of local units of government in the community.
DESCRIPTION: E-government, or the use of information and communications technologies to improve the activities of the public sector, can be an effective tool for improving the delivery of services to residents and creating operational efficiencies for local governments.
Local units of government can improve civic engagement by employing digital tools aimed at involving citizens, businesses, and institutions in local decision making. The assessment of local government websites and their use of advanced features provide those municipalities with a thorough examination of their website and offers ways to improve its functionality.
Improving citizen use of local government online resources includes providing both a reason and a means for them to interact. Advanced web features, including ways to transact and conduct business with the municipality, livestreaming of public meetings, and online surveys to gauge public opinion, are just a few ways to provide citizens with a reason to digitally interact. Various social media platforms and a robust website provide the means by which they interact.
Ensure local municipalities have access to this Technology Action Plan and have located the link to their custom website analysis. The Use – Government section of this assessment includes a table with the detailed scores for each local government website tested and a link to the full report generated for each site. Leadership within each municipality should have access to this report and be able to find their related information. Additionally, this section also includes a table that shows the more advanced uses present and not present on participating municipality websites.
Each municipality, with the assistance of their IT staff or contractor, should examine the website and the accompanying report and develop a plan for implementing recommendations and making changes.
Some website changes, such as implementing more advanced features as listed in the assessment, may require more advanced assistance to implement. Local web developers could help local governments implement more advanced changes.
If not yet completed, municipalities should develop and implement policies of various web-related activities such as website update schedules and assignments, social media updates and response to comments, etc.
Municipalities should examine the ways in which they digitally interact with the public including e-mail, social media, and other means. Opportunities for expansion of these efforts should be examined.
Finally, municipalities should implement new digital civic engagement strategies and work to build awareness for the new online tools and opportunities with the public. Public service announcements, radio spots, public access television, and newsletters can help spread the word.
Local and county government; Web developers and IT professionals
Free website analysis tool: http://bit.ly/1nZVIbG.
Courtland Consulting specializes in government and non-profit web development: http://courtlandconsulting.com/.
Institute for Local Government Online Engagement Guide: http://www.ca-ilg.org/online-engagement-guide.
Community Change Through Facebook: http://connectmycommunity.org/project-view/community-change-through-facebook/.
Disaster Relief Starts Online in Michigan: http://connectmycommunity.org/project-view/disaster-relief-starts-online-in-michigan/
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