Monday, March 22, 2010

North Charleston launches redesigned city website and encourages greater public participation


Today, North Charleston launched its redesigned official city website, http://www.northcharleston.org. The site features a more intuitive structure, expanded city information, and greater free online tools for residents, businesses, and visitors.

With a strong emphasis in social media, the newly redesigned website aggregates information from various websites and displays it conveniently in a central location. A visitor to the site can now view the latest YouTube video, Flickr photos, Tweets, blog posts, and upcoming events from the homepage.

With the emergence of social media in government, the City of North Charleston is encouraging active participation from its citizens and businesses. By including the social media element and adding new information daily, NorthCharleston.org is never static. Mayor R. Keith Summey stated, “We have found that social media grants a dialogue in a form than was not previously possible. Government once only dispersed information online. Now we are able to provide a more vibrant array of information in a more efficient manner, and receive public participation from anyone with an internet connection.”

Mayor Summey continued, “The tools that can be utilized on the internet are amazing. Someone in Europe can watch our City Council meetings live from their mobile phone using technologies that are free to the City. If there is a traffic accident on Ashley Phosphate Road, it is possible to post a message on Twitter, and instantly alert the public to find an alternate route. In these tough economic times, it is important to be good stewards to our tax payers. We are proud to increase the amount of information we send out using free online tools.”

Along with the redesigned website, the City is building a public online library of archived agendas, items, and minutes from past meetings utilizing Google Docs. The library can be viewed here. The expenditures to date for the online library total $5.00 for 20 gigabytes of storage from Google.

The City of North Charleston also offers an online citizen support center at http://www.mygovhelp.org/northcharlestonsc/. This service allows citizens to find frequently asked questions, report problems or complaints, and pose questions, all of which are routed directly to city staff.

The website was designed and is hosted by VC3 of Columbia, SC. VC3 has been on the leading edge of Information Technology since 1994, providing a full range of IT services to both the private and public sectors in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. VC3 was named one of South Carolina's Fastest-Growing Companies in 2007 and again in 2008. VC3 is also a member of the Consortium for Enterprise Systems Management (CESM) and will be involved in managing the day-to-day operation of the CESM Data Center.

The following are popular social media sites actively used by the City of North Charleston:

Twitter, micro-blogging - http://twitter.com/northcharleston
Blogger, blogging - http://cityofnorthcharleston.blogspot.com
YouTube, videos - http://www.youtube.com/northcharlestonsc
Facebook, social networking - http://www.facebook.com/northcharleston
Flickr, photos - http://www.flickr.com/northcharleston
UStream, live video streaming - http://www.ustream.tv/northcharleston

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