It has so many ways citizens can interact with local government.
Frederick, Md. (KM) The use of technology by local government has gained Frederick County some national recognition. The Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties has named the county the number-three digital county in the nation.
That announcement was made Wednesday afternoon by County Executive Jan Gardner during a public information briefing. She said the county’s Interagency Information Technologies division spent a year filling out the 36-page entry form. “Entries are scored on how well they align technology with county goals and objectives, how they save tax dollars through innovation and efficiencies, how they boost transparency and community engagement, and incorporate best practices, including cyber-security,” says Gardner.
With more people using smart phones and tablets as well as desktop computers to keep up to date, Gardner says the county has responded in kind. She says that was evident during the May storms. “The county and state road closures can be found on a single map on line that is constantly updated. So when the May storm flooded many roadways, people really relied on this particular page to see what roads were closed and have the most up to date information. More than 24,000 visits were made to the road closures page in the few days following the storm,” she says.
In addition, Gardner says the county’s web page was way ahead of everyone else during the Primary. “During the Primary election just a few weeks ago, real time results were streamed by Frederick County Government TV faster than the State Board of Elections could update their website. So we became the go-to place for information,” she says.
In addition to the website, the county also provides other high tech features for citizens, including mobile apps, content management, video web streaming, e-government services and social media.
Gardner also says residents can use their smart phones to pay the fare on TransIT buses, and can receive text messages which tell them when the bus will arrive at their stop. They can also pay their bills on line, check the status of their permit applications, set up interviews for county job openings, register for parks and recreation programs, and request a library book or download an e-book.
“Counties recognized by the Center for Digital Government are described as open, mobile, engaged, collaborative, secure, staff-supported, connected, efficient, resilient and innovative,” says Gardner. “We are proud in Frederick County Government to be described in this manner because an open and transparent government is good government.”
The ranking is for counties with populations between 250,000 to 500,000. Gardner says Frederick County is one of the smallest counties in this category.
Gardner says two years ago, Frederick County came as the number-three digital county in the country, but it was in a different category and that was prior to reaching 250,000 in population.
The top two digital counties in the nation are Duchess County, New York, and Chesterfield County, Virginia.
By Kevin McManus