Is that a trick question?

I just got the following announcement from the Town of Chapel Hill's news list. The Council has apparently decided that it is now interested in beginning to maybe start thinking about possibly utilizing communication technology in the service of local government. It's about time.

Do you have comments or suggestions on ways the Town of Chapel Hill can use information technology to provide more effective and efficient services to the community?

The public is invited to provide input on government information technology issues at a community focus group meeting to be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, in the meeting room of the Chapel Hill Public Library, 100 Library Drive.

The purpose of the focus group is to provide citizens an opportunity to comment on the components of an information technology environment that would assist Town government operations to provide for the effective and efficient delivery of services to the community. Receiving public input is a part of the process of developing a needs assessment, which is being developed by RHJ Associates Inc. under contract with the Town.

For more information on the community focus group session, contact Town Information Officer Catherine Lazorko at 968-2743 or .

I have an appointment at the same time so in case I don't manage to reschedule it, I have two really simple and important suggestions:

  1. Acknowledge the lack of vision, authority, and direction given by the Council to the previous town Technology Board, which led to their inability to accomplish anything and their eventual dissolution. Then put out a call for new volunteers to help advise the Council on these crucial issues and choose the members wisely.
  2. Visit, read their research, subscribe to their Democracies Online updates, and consider hiring founder Steven Clift to be a consultant to the town.



I look forward to going. The streaming video is supposedly going to hit the 'net any day now - maybe we can discuss using an open platform for its delivery....

I'm not sure whether I will be able to attend on Wednesday (very short notice!), but if I don't here's my hope.

When the TechComm began the push for e-democracy 3+ years ago, the presentations we made to council focused as much on process as on the technology required to support the process. As I understand it, the current work going forward on the town's use of IT is being handled as a technology-only project.

If the town's investment in technology is going to pay off, they need to spend time developing a vision that includes more than hardware. By focusing on the technology only, we assume there are citizens just waiting to logon and speak up. That might be true. But will those citizens who chose to participate be those who don't already sign up for their 3 minutes at public hearings; who aren't already sitting on advisory boards; who don't post here or on STP?

While I would be thrilled to see Steven Clift here in our community, I would be even happier to see him in conjunction with Carolyn Lukensmeyer from America Speaks.

What about moratorium on accepting low-grade services from out of state companies just because they're free? You get what you pay for.

It seems the thread that grew up around that here on OP had some other good ideas, too.

Absolutely, Jason. I was just thinking last night that I forgot #3. End the relationship with CivicPlus and hire a firm that understands SOCIAL and COMMUNITY uses of the internet to overhaul the Town's web strategy (not just the web site).

And Terry is right that the solution is as much organizational as I.T. Any solutions looking at technology alone in a vacuum will fail.

It was short notice on the web - think I got the info the 12th.

This is about the effective use of tech to establish a broader and deeper conversation among our citizens, between them and our civic leaders and Town staff.

Imagine if the Lot #5 site had been kept up to date - if a two way conversation had been established (blog?) - if 3D models ala GoogleEarth had been deployed....

We spent quite a bit of time in the Tech B (and outside of it ;-) ) discussing the usage of tech - educational initiatives required. You need to advertise and the assist (maybe some teach-ins like Anton and Brian do).

Of course, there is a tech dimension to this - for instance, using open standards to deliver and retain content. The new video streaming system fails that test. Or organizing the content in reasonable manner. The Javascript heavy (and still privacy notice-less) Town website fails here...

Jason, Laurin and I spoke quite a bit about this during 2005's campaign, glad its cropped up again this campaign year.

Whatever the reason - its good we're moving forward on this nearly 4 years after the Tech B sketched out a plan.

Just got an email:

The Technology Forum scheduled for Wednesday, February 21 has been canceled due to illness. You will be notified when the Forum has been rescheduled.


Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.