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Gov Tech For Winter Conditions

Raleigh, NC – As the state is suffering under wintry conditions it is a good time to review the available tech options to assist you. North Carolina has developed several web and mobile sites to aid in navigating winter conditions.

In addition to web and mobile apps, we know that a strong social media plan is not only important for daily two-way communication with citizens, but is a vital part of emergency planning and preparedness. In fact in Governor Pat McCrory’s press conference this morning, he mentioned that NC DOT Secretary Tony Tata had reported that social media had helped to get information quickly as to where the slick spots were across the state.

Real-time weather and road conditions and shelter openings, as well as winter safety tips, can be found on the free ReadyNC mobile app or on line at www.readync.org web site.

Travelers are urged to call 511 or go to www.ncdot.org for up to date roadway conditions. Motorists are reminded to only use 911 for emergencies so those lines are not overloaded with non-emergency calls.

Ready NC Website

TIMS

The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Traveler Information Management System (TIMS) lets commuters check road and weather conditions in real-time from their computers and smartphones any time, anywhere. The goal of TIMS is to help drivers “know before you go.”

Previous Tech Tank Articles on NC Tech

NC Digital Commons

NC “Mobile First” – Digital Front Door Project Series

Cary, NC – Cary, NC – This is the third article in our series of the new paradigm for redeveloping municipal websites. We will bring you stories of the innovative things people are doing in this space. This article is about the Digital Commons Project at the State of North Carolina.

NC Digital Commons Project

NC.gov and State Agency Websites are Getting a Facelift, Going Mobile

The state is working to improve its web presence, not just for NC.gov, but for state agencies as well. We’re calling it the Digital Commons Project, with the goal of better customer service by improving user experience.

The Digital Commons Project provides cabinet agencies with the resources to have a modern, mobile-ready website that is better able to meet the needs of the citizen. For the first time, cabinet agencies are working together to provide predictable navigation, content that is easier to manage and that is better maintained, and a modern means to create and maintain websites. Websites will have robust functionality combined with a clean look and feel that functions on desktops, tablets and smartphones. A “mobile-first” approach will ensure websites work just as well on a small screen as on a large one. Designs will be consistent while allowing the flexibility for each agency site to have its own personality.

Why Mobile-First?

Many people in North Carolina do not have access to broadband or PC’s and for these people their smartphone is their access to the Internet. Designing for the smaller screen format first is important so all these people can access your content and interact with your websites. It is much easier to start small and add additional content for those with bigger screen sizes, than it is to try and shrink a website that was developed for the PC’s and have it be usable on a smartphone.

Brendan Morrisey, the CEO of Netsertive, recently presented the reality that mobile devices are currently outselling PC’s four to one, an impressive market penetration from their introduction in 2006. Brendan’s message is that you have to react to the innovations in the marketplace or you will be left behind. (Brendan’s presentation on innovation was given at the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting an Friday, January 30, 2015. There was a lot of great information in the presentation and we will try to bring some of that content to our readers soon.)

For both the reasons of lack of broadband and PC’s as well as the large scale adoption of mobile devices, “Mobile-first” is a smart strategy for the State of NC to be pursuing.

Check out the Digital Commons Project and see how you like it, also see if you like the process they are using to redesign their sites. If you find this interesting and useful, please talk to your elected officials to see if your Town or City can use a similar process for their website redesign.

Previous Tech Tank Articles in the Digital Front Door Series

GOV.UK Website

GOV.UK – Digital Front Door Project Series

Cary, NC – This is the second article in our series of the new paradigm for redeveloping municipal websites. We will bring you stories of the innovative things people are doing in this space. This article is about one of the first of this new best-in-class website redesign efforts, the development of GOV.UK.

GOV.UK

GOV.UK is the online home of government services and information in the United Kingdom. Released in October 2012, it was the first phase in the creation of a single domain for government, addressing the needs of users previously served by several other websites. GOV.UK is a key element in the government’s Digital by Default agenda, which was instigated by Martha Lane Fox’s “Revolution, not Evolution” report and endorsed by Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude.

GOV.UK has been built and tested in public, so that feedback from real users could be gathered and fed into successive improvements. This is in stark contrast to how large government IT projects have been delivered in the past. The agile, iterative approach means that the site can rapidly accommodate new standards for development and security, catering to emerging technology platforms and user requirements. These techniques have been shown to be more effective at delivering large-scale projects for the web – in the same way that world-class services like Amazon, Google and iPlayer are built and maintained.

GOV.UK has also been built using open source technology, which means that government won’t have to pay expensive software licensing costs.

Francis Maude on GOV.UK

Francis Maude said that creating GOV.UK has required a step-change in the way government presents services and information online:

GOV.UK is focused on the needs of users, not the needs of government. It has been planned, written, organised and designed around what users need to get done, not around the ways government want them to do it – providing only the content they need and nothing superfluous. Not only is the result simpler, clearer and faster for users, it will also cost taxpayers up to £70 million less per year than the services it replaces. We anticipate further substantial savings as more departments and agencies move on to the GOV.UK platform.

In the way it has been built – and will continue to be updated and improved on the basis of experience and user feedback – GOV.UK is an example of how the civil service should keep continuously changing and improving and remain focused on outcomes. The public wants services to be delivered better, and with GOV.UK we are responding with a digital platform that makes services quicker and easier to use, and produces efficiencies for government.

Check out the GOV.UK Website and see how you like it, also see if you like the process they have used to redesign their site. If you find this interesting and useful, please talk to your elected officials to see if your Town or City can use a similar process for their website redesign.

This article is based on information from the GOV.UK Press release: “GOV.UK: making public service delivery digital by default“, first published on 17 October 2012.

Previous Tech Tank Articles in the Digital Front Door Series

Philadelphia PA Alpha Website Redesign

Philadelphia – Digital Front Door Project Series

Cary, NC – This is the first article in our series of the new paradigm for redeveloping municipal websites. We will bring you stories of the innovative things people are doing in this space. First off is Philadelphia, PA.

Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia, PA has started a redesign project of their municipal website and you can see the site as it develops by going to alpha.phila.gov. Philadelphia is using an open iterative process to first find out how their citizens use the website, then add some design and information elements and then evaluate through web analytics how successful they are at meeting the citizen’s needs.

There is a survey on the website that they want citizens to take. The survey asks questions about what devices and where the person uses to access the website, what types of typical municipal information the user needs to find and some demographics about their neighborhood, age and language spoken at home. It is refreshing to see a survey that identifies the user and their needs first rather than asking technical questions about website structure, layout and design that most people are unable to answer properly.

Check out the Philadelphia, PA alpha site and see how you like it and if you like the process they are using to redesign the site. If you find this interesting and useful, please talk to your elected officials to see if your Town or City can use a similar process for their website redesign.

About alpha.phila.gov

YOUR NEEDS FIRST.

Instead of designing from our own assumptions, we will start with the needs of our neighbors, the residents of Philadelphia. We will learn how people want to use phila.gov through regular usability testing and our web analytics.

WORK IN SMALL CHUNKS.

Instead of designing the entire site up front, we will break down development into manageable, two week iterations. This agile process allows us to develop quickly and provides flexibility to adjust to user feedback and (inevitable) unforeseen issues.

BE OPEN AND INVITE PARTICIPATION.

Instead of working behind closed doors and making the public wait for a grand reveal, we will build out in the open. This is an experimental prototype, a work in progress. It’s missing content. Parts of it are confusing. The design needs work. And that’s the point. We’re starting here, knowing it’s not perfect, but with the means to continually make it better.

Other Tech Tank Digital Front Door Articles

Pinnacle Awards Picture

Wake County Award Winning Website

Raleigh, NC – On Sept. 26, 2013, Wake County won a prestigious Pinnacle Award for best local government website at the National Association of Government Web Professionals (NAGW) 2013 Conference.  (Press Release). NAGW is the leading organization for local government web professionals.

The award was recognized at Monday’s Wake County Board of Commissioners meeting. The Pinnacle Award was for ‘best local government website’ in the large population category. Kudos to Wake County!

WakeGOV.com Details

The following details about the WakeGOV.com site are from the December 2, 2013 Meeting Agenda of the Wake County Board of Commissioners:

  • The current version of WakeGOV.com was launched in October 2012 and was completed in nine months, using existing staff in Information Services and content contributors from all departments.
  • No external vendors or resources were used.
  • The website receives more than 9.4 million site visits and 126.7 million page views annually and Information Services is proud of its very low downtime rate.
  • The website quickly connects users to the content and online services they need, from mobile devices and traditional computers.