Mountain View Voice

News - March 4, 2011

Council finally discusses website, technology goals

by Daniel DeBolt

The city is finally moving forward with a City Council goal from last year to better use technology and the Internet to serve the city's tech-savvy residents.

In a study session Tuesday, council members expressed frustration that Mountain View was not moving quickly enough on the project and that the website wasn't as simple and easy to use as it could be. City-hired consultant Pacific Technologies Inc. pointed to the website for Redmond, Wash. which PTI said it helped develop into an exemplary city government website.

While Mountain View's website has most of the components of a good website, "We've never had a usability expert look at it," said council member Ronit Bryant. "I should be able to find the information very easily."

A major complaint about the city's website by council members has been the difficulty in searching past council reports. Non-council members also have a hard time finding city council agendas and reports before meetings on the city's website, which links to a complicated document retrieval system. Other improvements could include the incorporation of the GIS mapping system the planning department uses onto the site, as other cities have done.

The "strategic plan" the city is coming up with isn't limited to the website. The goal is to "lay the foundation for how city will use technology to meet the needs of the community and residents." It could include, for example, the ability for people to make appearances at City Council meetings via Skype, said council member Mike Kasperzak.

Resident Bruce England called on the council to establish a task force of the city's residents and technology experts to inform the process, but council members said that would be too time consuming and proposed having a meeting to gather the input instead. PTI is conducting focus groups this week to gather input for the project from city employees.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

Comments

Posted by JR, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm

One would wonder with as many Tech-Savy individuals locally why Mountain View decided look to an out of state source for web-page design. It's difficult to believe that it wouldn't have been more cost effective to utilize local resources. With so many residents and people who live in the immediate area unemployed why go out of state? If there isn't enough time to consult with local technology experts why did the council wait so long to take action?

I would also suggest "before" a new City Manager is selected the City Council take advantage of the situation to restructure the compensation and benefit package.


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