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Town launches new, ‘open’ website


It’s all about openness, according to associate Town administrator Gary Palmer.

He’s talking about the Town’s new website, set to launch Friday, July 1, at www.townoffarragut.org

“Information is more centralized and easier to find. The whole functionality of the system is different,” Palmer said.

The new website will be more user-friendly, designed specifically for easy access by Farragut citizens. It’s been in the works for a little more than a year, Palmer said.

The new home page will feature easy –access “buttons” that direct users to popular pages with only one click.

New to the website is a “Business” button that includes links to websites for Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce and Farragut Business Alliance, as well as a listing of available properties and sites in the Town.

It also allows business owners or developers to apply for certain licenses and permits online, and even search the Town’s municipal code for specific regulations.

Users can click “Notify Me” to be notified of bids, job openings, news flashes and even Amber Alerts with just the click of a button.

According to Palmer, a citizen request button eventually will include a login option, where residents can view the status of their requests with real-time updates and live links. That means a citizen wouldn’t have to wait for an e-mail response to a request; he or she could simply log in to the website and respond to staff comments on the site.


“We’ll eventually have an app, too,” Palmer said.

GIS mapping is another new component of the website.

Maps show the locations of parks, greenways and recycling locations, as well as zoning codes, development, ZIP Codes, the snow removal schedule, urban growth boundary and even high school zones.

The new website also takes a more global approach to what it lists.

A “resources” button on the home page can direct users to links for local churches, emergency services, utilities, library locations and even an arts and culture page. Inter-governmental links are included.

The “government” button includes not only pages devoted to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, as well as the Town’s many committees, but also to community grant applications and to copies of the Town’s charter and municipal code.

“Overall, this is better for us because it makes us more efficient. The end goal is to stay at the forefront of e-government,” Palmer said.

The website design process also was an experiment in a new method of running municipalities, Palmer said, a process that emphasizes teamwork rather than the bureaucratic chain of command.

“You check your titles at the door and work as a team,” Palmer said.

The website team was comprised of Palmer with Town staff members Chelsey Riemann, Jason Scott, Valerie Millsapps and Mark Shipley, plus GIS consultant Robbi McKinney and IT consultant Jason Wood.

“Our team identified issues with the current website and goals for a new one,” Palmer, said, then created a document outlining its process and performance measures, which was published by International City/County Management Association.

The Town has contracted with CivicPlus for the new website.

 

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