SmartGov’s growth spurt adds cool tools, innovative applications to the virtual city

I’ll have full video and photos from this afternoon’s news conference later this evening.

The City of Fort Wayne website

In the meantime, here’s the news release from the city of Fort Wayne:

SmartGov’s growth spurt adds cool tools, innovative applications to the virtual city
Mayor Strengthens Digital Commitment to Enhanced Service, Community Dialogue

Taking SmartGov to the next level, Mayor Tom Henry today introduced a new suite of digital resources to better connect Fort Wayne residents with their government, making it easier, more efficient and effective to use.

In an afternoon news conference, Mayor Henry and Deputy Mayor Beth Malloy unveiled SmartGov’s eight new elements: a completely redesigned City of Fort Wayne website with a versatile calendaring function, a personalized notification service, SmartGov Ordinance View, Fencepost, Citizens Square blog, Twitter, Facebook and a handy trails widget.

“As Mayor, I strive every day to make City government more welcoming, convenient and responsive to the needs of residents and businesses,” said Mayor Henry. “SmartGov nails all three. With the addition of each new digital tool, we’re building a more competitive community and creating new opportunities to engage the people of Fort Wayne in meaningful ways. That’s what SmartGov is all about.”

SmartGov demonstrates again Mayor Henry’s commitment to employing innovative methods, new technologies and process improvements to better serve the public and make Fort Wayne more attractive to new jobs and business investment. Phase one of SmartGov has been about delivering more information and increasing access to items such as city contracts, financial data, Fort Wayne City Council reports, the City check registry. Phase two, in rollout today, is about encouraging a conversation with the public that promotes interaction and collaboration to strengthen the community.

“As a best-run city, continually meeting residents’ expectations for high-quality, low-cost services, SmartGov is helping us do more with less,” observed Mayor Henry. “SmartGov’s growing array of tools is also positioning us for economic investment. It tells businesses that we’re prepared and ready to help them succeed.”

SmartGov’s New Digital Communications Tools include:

1. City Website. The City’s new website has been redesigned from the inside out, with streamlined navigation and advanced functionality throughout. Features incorporated are as follows:

[list type=”black”]
[li]Improved service links;[/li]
[li]Improved customer service forms;[/li]
[li]Subscription service for email notifications on a variety of topics;[/li]
[li]Comprehensive calendar of meetings and events; and[/li]
[li]Integrated applications and social media, such as Twitter and Facebook.[/li]

2. Information Notices. For those with a special interest in job openings, new releases, park information, vendor news or Animal Care & Control postings, individuals can now sign up to receive personal notifications when new information becomes available.

3. SmartGov Ordinance View. This SmartGov component is the online storehouse for information about City ordinances. Its search capability allows residents to find out the purpose and content of each ordinance. It also enables visitors to go to the City Council’s actual discussion and its vote on the selected ordinance.

4. Fencepost. This discussion site allows users to hold conversations in the form of posted messages. The forum contains a number of sub-forums, each with the potential to host several topics. Forums promote collaborative discussions. They are initially geared toward neighborhoods and vendors.

5. Citizens Square Blog. The blog gives Fort Wayne a new “city square” – a place to ask questions and gather information. Real time and interactive, it will also feature articles by City staff on issues of interest to the community.

6. Twitter. The popular 140-character microblog will soon add Mayor Henry to its roster. The Mayor will begin tweeting as he visits and observes locations around the community, giving tweeters insight into the life of their Mayor and the work of the City.

7. Facebook. The City’s Facebook page now notes almost 400 fans. The behemoth of social media, Facebook offers the opportunity for immediate conversations that enhance the City experience and capture the input of its residents and fans.

8. Trails Widget. A widget located on the Parks and Recreation web page allows trail enthusiasts to tap up-to-date information about trail conditions and temporary closures due to maintenance, flooding or other weather issues. Sure to become a popular bookmark, this idea came from local trail users who commute back and forth to work.

Significant planning in the preparation of the City’s comprehensive digital communications strategy undergirds the launch of SmartGov’s phase two. Work continues to finalize and fully integrate the digital plan throughout the City’s overarching communications program.

The City is on track to expand SmartGov across its operations. It was originally announced in September 2010. The work to develop the new digital resources was handled in-house.

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