Improving Local Government’s Technology, including better utilizing social media, not only spurs innovation and collaboration, but also improves government performance and efficiency. Technology is becoming more ubiquitous in our lives by the minute, and if Montgomery County wants to provide the level of service our residents expect and deserve, we must continually improve upon it.
Montgomery County Website:
I commit to improving the County’s website so that it is user-friendly to its residents and businesses. We can achieve user-friendliness by vastly enhancing the user interface to ensure that anyone who comes to our site can quickly and easily navigate it to find the information they need. In a world today where technology plays such a large part in our effectiveness to serve the public, Montgomery County’s presence online matters as much as our interaction with our residents in person. We can and will do a much better job.
Montgomery County has laid the groundwork and welcomed Open Data to our County government. Using the technology of today, governments can instantly share best practices at little or no cost. It is time we take it to the next step and begin to utilize our open data to serve the public to the best of our ability. By creating “One Click Montgomery” and an Open Data Challenge, Montgomery County can become a leader in Open Data Initiatives. I would like to build upon the strides Montgomery County has made regarding Open Data, thanks in large part to efforts made by Councilman Hans Riemer.
One Click Montgomery:
For all those who interact with the County, you should be able to securely access and download your personal information that Montgomery County has on file with one click. This should be true for residents and businesses. One Click Montgomery will cut through the red tape that can be arduous and be a high barrier to entry. It will also help residents and businesses to derive value and benefit from the data they download, whether for their own access and use or reuse on repetitive county forms and permit applications that should ideally be able to be completed with one click. Personal data has been called “the new oil” and we should be empowering our residents with it to help Montgomery County’s services become more customer-friendly.
The Federal Government’s Department of Health and Human Services, through the leadership of President Obama, has already begun initiatives like this with their “Blue Button,” which enables patients to view online and download their personal health records. I believe Montgomery County should follow suit to improve effective interactivity with local government.
Open Data Challenge:
While we have many data sets online that are available to the public, I want to issue a challenge to our business community to take the data available and create technology for Montgomery County to better serve the public, such as being able to track the next Ride-On bus in real time from an app on your phone. We must work together with our business community to help make Montgomery County government more efficient and effective for you, the businesses and residents who pay for it. This challenge is an important step in achieving that goal. We will have a liaison, reporting to the Chief Technology Officer, for businesses that want to know about and access the data sets available that could be useful to them.
Montgomery County needs a 311 for the 21st century, and I will reorganize it to ensure that it becomes a system that interacts with you. We need a 311 that actually tracks people’s inquiries and solves their problems, including follow-ups to ensure solutions were achieved. We need a 311 that expands beyond a number to call or a website to register complaints. With the increased use of mobile technology, Montgomery County needs to expand its 311 system and better utilize Twitter or other social media as another way to communicate with its residents. We need to answer our residents’ questions – not redirect them to a dead end. Making government services accessible to the public and serving the public should be a priority in Montgomery County, and I promise to overhaul 311 so that we again become a County that works for you.
With the ever-increasing usage of Social Media, particularly Twitter, as a way to communicate with people, Montgomery County needs to adapt its social media approach to become more interactive. Currently, people who tweet at County Government simply get told to call this or that number. I will change that so instead their questions or comments will get answered directly then and there.
Businesses and other jurisdictions long ago replaced mobile websites with iPhone and Android apps as the most effective way to ensure customers and residents are properly communicated with. I want to create a one-stop Montgomery County Government App, which residents can download and access pertinent county information, whether its breaking news alerts about the County being closed due to weather, public safety information, or news celebrating things happening in our great county.