GovLaunch – Introducing New Fairfax County News/Engagement Website

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to drop by and mention today’s launch of a new local government news/engagement website that I’ve been developing and thinking about for some time. In Fairfax County, our news lived in silos by department or other organizational boundaries. Social media sites existed, but often separate from news delivery and conversation. We had many key pieces of content and delivery strewn about our website.

No more.

The Fairfax County NewsWire consolidates all of our county news into one central location complete with multiple ways for our public to access this cohesive information. This is no small task given the size of our government. Not only does the site feature the basics of headlines, 40+ RSS feeds, social media sites, video, audio, mobile and more, but I’m really excited about our expanded engagement opportunities, specifically Ask Fairfax! These online discussions with county staff will give our public the chance to ask questions directly of police, health professionals, transportation staff, and on and on. Our first chat next week will feature the health department taking questions about flu season. We also may add a chat to respond to breaking news in our community — we’ve had nearly 100 burglaries recently and the police are looking to answer as many questions as possible.

We’re also using social voting to collaborate with our various audiences on news content and delivery; we want to listen and respond with new ways of doing business, perhaps inspired directly by the public.

Some of my fellow state and local govies may already be managing these aggregation sites, but more often that not, we public affairs people often use news releases as our only currency. In my opinion, that’s not good enough in today’s digital age. The NewsWire uses news releases, but it relies on existing web pages to serve as a news topic, etc. We want to become even more timely and comprehensive with our information. This trend toward aggregation may not be new, but I noticed the State of California recently recognized this need to consolidate news, too. Perhaps the need is greater than we realize!

Take a peak around: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news

And learn more about some of the thinking that went into this by looking at these slides.



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Kitty Wooley

Greg, thanks for sharing the slides; #7 and #8 are amazing! Obviously, this was a very thoughtful process. Kudos to Fairfax County.

Terrence (Terry) Hill PHR

Great job Greg! As a Fairfax County resident, I appreciate all the hard work that I know went into developing this. I am now following the site on Twitter. I think the chat feature is great and social voting is a great way to keep the public engaged. I have accessed county websites for crime reports, reserving library books, and other information. It’s nice to have an aggragated site for all my needs. Thanks!

Greg Licamele

Thanks for all the great feedback! Week 1 has been a hit and we’re thrilled with this new model of integrated information delivery and engagement.

@Lori: Right now we’re managing each .gov website feed manually. We have the firehose of info automated into a new Twitter account; the majority of our followers on that account (right now) are journalists. Yes, managing each feed is slightly time consuming and we need a better technical solution. The most challenging part is deciding what news item goes in what feed, especially the location-based feeds.

@Terrence: Thanks for the kudos! Happy to hear feedback from you as a resident as this evolves. Look for our first chat Friday (I hope).

Christina Morrison

Thanks for the post Greg! I am a resident of Fairfax County, and follow @fairfaxcounty on twitter. The information that you put out is very helpful to me as a citizen. For instance, it was great earlier this month with all the rain storms to see the teleworking recommendation to avoid the traffic and roads closed due to the flooding.