- By Bryant Jordan, Heather B. Hayes, Heather Harreld
- Apr 25, 2000
A handful of city governments also have begun to use the Web to interact
with their residents.
In Palo Alto, Calif., municipal leaders are trying to use the Web to
encourage old-fashioned interactivity: getting to know your neighbors.
Because of an increasingly fast-paced lifestyle, many people do not
share information with their neighbors and others in the community as much
as they did in the past, said Sharon Murphy, coordinator of family resources
for the city.
"What we're trying to do is make more users comfortable about stepping
forward and using services, in terms of knowing what they're doing and who
they're working with," Murphy said. "If people feel connected...then they
will use the system. If they feel disenfranchised...then they will not step
forward. This whole thing is about our community, and all our services are
Palo Alto's Family Resources site is how the city plans to bring together
government and neighborhoods. The site is divided into broad service categories
such as health care, emergency services and basic needs. Within each category
are an array of services and descriptions of how citizens can access them.
In addition, officials have tried to design the site to make it as inviting
as possible to visitors, Murphy said. There are photographs of the city
officials who head up each service, with a recording of the official's voice
describing the services. The site also allows users to provide feedback
that officials can use to tweak human services.