Introducing the new CityofMarianna.com [Jackson County Floridan, Marianna, Fla.]
(Jackson County Floridan (Marianna, FL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 20--Bill Martin's been busy.
Hired roughly a year ago to manage the information technology needs of City of Marianna employees, Martin has just cleared a major project hurdle with the launch of the brand new city website: CityofMarianna.com.
Offering a fresh look and host of new features, the new website has several sections with useful information for residents as well as those thinking of moving to or visiting the Marianna area.
Behind the scenes, the site also has numerous tools to help those administering it get that information to -- and from -- citizens.
"We're still getting out feet wet," Martin said, but there's definitely more to come. And the company that built the new site -- CivicPlus -- has offered support every step of the way while staff learn the new system.
Earlier this year, the commissioners voted to contract with CivicPlus for website services in the amount of nearly $28,000 to be paid over a three-year period using money from the general and utility funds.
According to information presented to commissioners during the decision-making process, CivicPlus specializes in government websites, can provide the security needed for the city's website and has dedicated technical support on call around the clock.
In the past, city staff engaged local providers to operate and oversee the needs of the website, but that site, officials say, had been brought down several times by "cyber-attacks," and there was no support for maintaining and updating content on an ongoing basis.
Indeed, trying to use the city's website in recent years was often an unsatisfying -- sometimes exasperating -- experience, finding broken links or outdated information and, on rare occasions, being redirected entirely to a different website that was, to put it delicately, clearly not maintained by a municipal government. Hopefully, those days are gone.
On Thursday, CityofMarianna.com re-launched with a brand new look, additional features and expanded functionality.
In looking for a new city website provider, officials say only CivicPlus met their needs for reliability, functionality and security.
The Kansas-based company, which specializes in government websites with an emphasis on community engagement, offers backup of the site and redundant servers to make sure the site stays up and running even if one server goes down. CivicPlus has features customized for use by board members, city staff and residents.
Martin says users will find the site very easy to navigate through user of "mega menus," which help pinpoint the exact information needed with as few clicks as possible.
As for what data is available, there are links to city code, details on establishing or disconnecting utility services, business license applications, fingerprinting services information and a host of contact phone numbers and emails, if you still can't find exactly what you need or just have a question about what you do find online.
There are forms to report concerns like yard trash/special pickups, with more to come. In the future, residents may be able to use the website to report problems with potholes, streetlights and more.
One of the more exciting additions to the site, Martin says, will help city staff stay in better contact with residents.
The "Notify Me" component offers email or text notifications from various departments inside the city government.
While most information on the site is available without setting up and account, users who do take that extra step will find several extras now at their disposal -- like those notifications -- and can expect new features in the months ahead.
"We'll be adding more content," Martin said.
Enhancements on the horizon include online utility payments utilizing SpringBrook software, and down the road there may be features like M.E.R.E.-specific notifications that tell parents and players when recreation activities at the site have been postponed or cancelled.
At the moment though, there's plenty to explore on the new CityofMarianna.com, with the promise of more to come.
As for Martin, between his day-to-day IT duties and helping staff continue to flesh out offerings on the new website, he's gearing up for the city's next big technology project: the rollout of brand new software for the Marianna Police Department.
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