Connecting state and local government leaders
The city launched a new version of its website last year and is working hard to improve its open data portal and personalized services.
Without citizen engagement, Louisville, Kentucky’s latest iteration of its website, launched just over a year ago, wouldn’t see the more than 225,000 monthly visitors it does.
Lacking a marketing team or a big budget for advertising, Derby City has had to leverage the capabilities of its vendors Acquia and Fig Leaf Software, partnerships with organizations like Code for America and social media to self-promote.
But the feedback the city received from its residents through community forums, user testing and market analysis was the real reason for the site rollout’s reasonable price tag of $150,000.
“A website is kind of the image of the city; it’s a portal to everyday citizen events, how to conduct business, what’s going on with the mayor, and traffic updates,” Jason Ballard, Louisville’s director of information technology, told Route Fifty in an interview. “You always need to have the everyday citizen there at table and be collaborating with different groups like those in economic development that can give you a lot of good input.”
Louisville also worked with other cities, further along in their digital evolution, as benchmarks for web-based capabilities and open data initiatives. On the list of cities Louisville shares best practices with are Seattle, Boston and Philadelphia.
In Louisville’s Strategic Plan, making “more services, information and data available online” is a top priority, including bringing permitting to the site in some fashion to save both citizen and staff time.
Two years in the planning, the overhauled site launched in October 2014 featuring responsive design, a services toolbox and an open data portal with 153 datasets.
“It’s streamlined our services so it’s easier to find stuff with less clutter,” Ballard said. “We just kind of outgrew the old site, which was not user friendly, and went with a more dynamic platform.”
Next up on IT’s plate is expanding the open data portal by spring 2016 and hosting it on the same platform as the website, so processes can more easily be automated when it comes to releasing datasets. The move should improve transparency.
When louisvilleky.gov launched, it also came with the MyLouisville tool to identify citizen services by ZIP code—from trash collection to street sweeping.
“One of the things we’re doing is providing a more personalized experience from the consumer’s perspective,” Ballard said. “We’ll be expanding MyLouisville hopefully by fall of next year.”
Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty.