Those following Lebanon’s webpage will need to update their browser bookmarks immediately. At the end of today, the city’s old website www.cityoflebanon.org will be terminated. In its place will be www.lebanon.in.gov, one of the first agenda items of Mayor Matt Gentry’s administration.
Community, Economic and Redevelopment Director Joe LePage called the website process “long,” at Monday night’s Board of Works Meeting. Despite being in the middle of Gentry’s second year in office, it helps fulfill his campaign pledge of transparency.
“We want this site to be more than just a change to the IN.gov site address,” Gentry said. “We want this site to instill pride in those that call Lebanon home, and respect, and maybe even some envy from those who visit the site and city.”
City officials and department heads began surfing the site in early August. It gave those administrators a chance to see if anything needed to be added, and a chance for feedback.
Updating the old website became too big of a job for any one person, and discussion began during the March 2016 city council meetings to find a way to solve the problem. Gentry called the former website “clunky” in September 2016, as changes began to take shape. It was then decided to scrap the old site and build one from scratch.
The city contracted with a local web development company, DevLab Creative, to begin the website creation process.
“The goal was to make the site as easy as possible to navigate,” said Chad Perdue of DevLab Creative. “From city services to the community calendar, we want to provide an online place where locals and visitors can have access to everything they need. I think this site lays a solid foundation for better communication and more enhancements going forward.”
While the site is up and going, LePage stressed its far from complete. Additions like OpenGov, will soon be on the site after some “kinks” get worked out, he said.
OpenGov’s website says its products “transform government financial and non-financial data — often confined to static documents and spreadsheets that are unreadable to non-financial professionals — into intuitive, interactive visualizations.” OpenGov came at the expense of a flat yearly rate ($7,500) and a one-time setup fee ($4,500).
In essence, OpenGov will open up the books on each department’s revenue and expenses, budget processes, and financial and performance data, in an easily digestible way.
The possibility of Online 311 and “Find My Councilman” are still being discussed logistically and within the city council. Online 311 is billed as another way to report potholes, vandalism, park equipment problems, streetlight outages, unkempt property and a host of other civil issues.
LePage introduced Online 311 in November 2016 to the city council, and advocated for the addition of this citizen reporting system through SeeClickFix. Gentry and LePage saw the system at a conference.
According to its website, SeeClickFix seeks to help streamline the communications process of civil requests. It provides four aspects — request, work, engage and analyze — that focus on providing a transparent and efficient way to notify the city’s department heads of possible problems.
The “Find my Councilman" feature would help direct residents to their appropriate councilman. The way it would work is when a resident types in their addresses, the councilman’s information whose district the address falls into, would pop up.
One more change will be the city’s email system. It will redirect from old email addresses to new Lebanon.in.gov addresses for the first six months of the transition. After that, senders must use the new email addresses.