A couple weeks ago, I had the chance to participate in Gov 2.0a / CityCampOKC in Oklahoma City. While there, I met Derrick Silas of Enid, OK. I had heard from folks like Sid Burgess that Derrick was doing some innovative things in Enid, but I hadn’t spent any time on their website…until right after the event. And I was blown away. In particular, I love the chat feature on the site…but I’ll let Derrick tell you about it below.
1. Enid’s website is arguably one of the best municipal websites in the US. When did the first refresh begin and do you have a screenshot of how it looked before your recent renovations?
After several months of looking for a vendor to help us with the design of a new web site, we selected Vision Internet as our web site developer in March of 2010. We went live with the Web site in November of 2010.
2. Did you have to overcome any initial resistance from key stakeholders?
The City Manager was the driving force behind updating our web site. The Information Technology department did a presentation to the City Council on how important the web site is to the economic development of the city, detailing the number of hits the web site was getting.
3. Tell us about some of the features and functionality that you’ve incorporated.
Homepage tabs that show the four most recent news, upcoming events/meetings, and traffic construction/news.
a. Four Color Themes
i. General Website – (http://www.enid.org)
ii. Library – (http://www.enid.org/library)
iii. Fire – (http://www.enid.org/fire)
iv. Police – (http://www.enid.org/police)
b. E-notifier (Website Visitors can sign up for electronic newsletters based on their preferences).
c. Language Translation by Google (Arabic, Chinese, Filipino, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Macedonian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Vietnamese)
d. Mobile-optimized version of website.
e. Online Live Chat (from 8am CST to 5pm CST, Monday to Friday)
f. RSS feeds
g. Photo Sharing (http://www.flikr.com/cityofenid)
h. Video Sharing (http://www.youtube.com/cityofenid)
i. New Living in Enid Video (http://www.enid.org/index.aspx?page=39)
j. Code Enforcement (http://www.citizenserve.com/Enid/EN_Citizen_Login.jsp)
k. Zone Maps (http://www.meshekgis.com/enidwards/)
i. CrimeReports.com (http://www.crimereports.com/#enid,ok)
ii. Nixle (http://local.nixle.com/city/ok/enid/municipal/)
iii. Bids & eProcurement system (http://bids.enid.org)
iv. Crime Stopper Tips Online (http://www.enid.org/crimestopper)
m. Share & Bookmark links on every page (for digg, reddit, delicious, etc.)
n. Breadcrumbs (e.g. Departments » Accounting)
o. Section 508 Compliant
p. Content Management System (CMS)
q. With our CMS, we automatically post news to twitter and facebook.
r. Navigation easily categorized for those: living in, moving to, doing business with, or visiting Enid.
s. I trained all departments on how to create improved content, i.e., scannable text, objective text, and concise text, using our own website standards handbook, derived from the Associated Press format. This way, more persons are inclined to read content on the website.
t. Ideas Websites
i. “Innovation Enid” for Employees (http://employeechallenge.enid.spigit.com/Page/Home)
ii. “Innovation Enid” for Citizens *Coming Soon
4. How did you decide to incorporate these elements? Were citizens involved? Key city stakeholders? We started with several surveys asking the citizens and employees how to improve our web site. We formed a development committee involving employees from all divisions of the City and also some external constituents (veteran, etc.).
5. What has been the response from these various stakeholders? All of them really like our new web site. We still get suggestions, and make changes all the time.
6. I just used your chat feature (which I love and strongly recommend to cities since it’s the most immediate form of online engagement they can use). Tell me how you staff it – who, how often, length of time during the day, etc.?Our receptionist staff the online chat 8-5 everyday. We also have a chat client in our utility billing department and at the service center (public works department) that answer questions concerning trash, street, landfill, and water line repairs.
7. Any other tips or recommendations you’d make for your colleagues as they’re striving to more effectively engage citizens wherever they are?
There are a lot of free tools that municipalities can use to engage citizens (facebook, twitter, youtube, and flickr). I would suggest that the government body use a Gov2.0 tool (e.g. Spigit, BrightIdeas, Jive, etc.) that allows the community to share their ideas on how to make their government body better. In using these tools, remain honest to the community and they will appreciate it and feel more compelled to participate in the openness in government. I would suggest that other municipalities allow their staff to attend conferences (e.g. National Association of Government Communicators [NAGC], National Association of Government Webmasters [NAGW], etc.) to network with other government entities and to get best practices.
Also, outside of the website, we have launched:
- YouTown Mobile by Dotgovcom (iPhone)
- City Reporter 311 by WebQA (iPhone, Android, Blackberry)
- CrimeReports Mobile (iPhone)