That’s how you eat an elephant. Following is the proposal I sent out to all employees in an email tonight. I spoke with all 14 Department Heads in a meeting Monday and with the Clerk, City Administrator and IS Director before heading out on the limb. Now I have to pitch the project through the budget process.
We are ready for the next step in our website. Currently, most of the information on the website goes out. Incoming, we have the great citizen request link in Public Works that routes requests by email to staff, and we have the online features for payment of city bills. The Municipal Clerk is also planning and budgeting for a website technology upgrade.
Internal communications are mostly by phone and email and citizens shape government action through public testimony at Board and Commission meetings and at Assembly meetings; as well as through traditional means like personal visits, letters and emails, and letters to the editor of our local paper. These methods are used extensively and well by citizens and employees of the City.
With the addition of some code, for example by placing a comments box below information we regularly update on the front page and on other Department web pages, we can use our website and the internet for communication of citizen comments on City plans, and development of ideas for the future and how to make Sitka a place more outstanding.
Citizens will be able to provide input on what we are doing. At any time. We (employees) would also be able to get our thoughts and ideas out and they could be examined and improved upon. The only way to do this is by communicating these ideas. I would also like to propose all employees have space to post blogs, create groups, and generally interact. We are spread throughout the City and many of our fourteen Departments have no contact. 24/7 schedules in Harbors, SFD, SPD, W/WW, and Electric also prevent us from communicating more and understanding each other. The world and our lives have changed to the extent where we find it more difficult to have the time to communicate with each other. I think performance at work, at home and in making a balanced life suffers.
Outside, they are calling this idea Web 2.0 – social networking. It is being implemented in cities and in government across the U.S. I believe we can use this idea to help us make Sitka a better place. We can provide better service.
What is the cost?
What is the return on investment?
What are the drawbacks?
I would like to schedule a meeting with those interested in putting together a cost and implementation plan. Folks updating web pages and any folks who would like to work on the website are encouraged to come.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008 – Third Floor Conference Room 1:15 pm
I’ve got the room reserved. I will put together a packet of information. Please let me know if you are interested or have any ideas for this program. Thank you for taking this under consideration.
Awesome, Mark – making it happen! Let us know how we can help – I have time for research support before my MPA program starts in Jan. Also, think about user validation – 2.0 can revert back to nasty anonymous comments real fast in a political environment.
Mark: I hope you will upate us after the meeting on the 17th. Am interested to learn if you are using any other means to collect input from the group prior to the meeting. You know, have some thoughts, topics and ideas ready to present at the meeting to get the ball rolling.