City goes high-tech with new apps, upgraded online presence
By Dan Moran firstname.lastname@example.org May 16, 2013 7:22PM
All Waukegan elected officials, including aldermen, have been assigned tablet computers to eliminate the need for printing out multiple sets of meeting documents, such as contracts and development applications.
Updated: July 16, 2013 1:15AM
The days of out-the-door lines to purchase last-minute vehicle stickers could be a thing of the past as Waukegan rolls out e-commerce features on its new website, part of an overall effort to make City Hall as paperless as possible.
A renovated version of www.waukeganweb.net went live on April 27, too late to assist with 2013-14 sticker purchases that were due April 30. But city spokesman David Motley said residents will be able to make online purchases for next year’s version at a website that he called “more user-friendly and customer-service modeled.”
“We’re going to be adding more e-commerce functions as part of the second phase, which should start happening in the next few months,” Motley said. “Currently, people can pay their water bill there, they can apply for building licenses (and) you can download the vehicle-tag information, you just can’t pay for it yet.”
The new services are one result of a $67,000 contract with CivicPlus, a Kansas-based vendor that specializes in website development for city and county governments. Waukegan was required to improve its online presence as part of the settlement of a federal lawsuit brought following the opening of the new City Hall in 2004.
Among the features available to residents at the Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant site is a “Notify Me” tab that allows users to set up both email and text notifications for everything from city emergencies and weather alerts to City Council meeting agendas.
Also on the home page is a link to WaukeganTV, a YouTube One Channel listing that will feature recent video recordings of City Council meetings. These recordings have been available for viewing on Comcast and have been uploaded to YouTube previously, but Motley said the new dedicated-site arrangement could clear the way for meetings to be posted prior to the standard Sunday-night cable broadcast.
The effort to update the city’s tech profile extends to the City Council, where all elected officials, including aldermen, have been assigned tablet computers to eliminate the need for printing out multiple sets of meeting documents, such as contracts and development applications.
City officials report that it will take some time to see how much money will be saved by not having to print out files like the 100-odd pages often distributed to Judiciary Committee members each month.
But Mayor Wayne Motley said one immediate advantage of electronic packets for aldermen is that “I will never hear, ‘I didn’t get it’ again.”
“We are moving fast-forward to making City Council meetings mostly paperless, (and) officials will get the majority of their information related to meetings sent to them electronically,” the mayor said on Monday, May 13.
He added that “Explore Waukegan” mobile apps will be unveiled in about two weeks through the iTunes Store and Android Marketplace, giving residents more options to follow events and meetings.
The mayor said he feels all of the technology upgrades will not only benefit residents but send a message to the business community.
“I have made it a priority for my administration to set a standard for business recruitment and business retention and investment,” Wayne Motley said. “We will start this fundamental shift in policy by understanding that the residents of this community are our customers.”