L.A. site keeps tabs on convention

With the Democratic National Convention in town, Los Angeles has created a Web site to help residents and businesses deal with the more than the 30,000 people attending, covering or demonstrating at the downtown event.

Maintained by the city's Emergency Preparedness Department (EPD), the site provides current information about traffic patterns, closures, parking restrictions and public transportation in and around the Staples Center arena, where the event is being held. It provides general information about the convention, being held through Thursday, as well as links to other city, state, and federal agencies.

The site (www.lacity.org/dnc) has received about 250,000 hits since Aug. 6 and has been online for more than a month. The same information is available on another Los Angeles site (www.updatela.com), which also is under the auspices of the city's Emergency Operations Organization and has been online since October.

Bob Canfield, EPD's assistant general manager, said the Web site is a good way to get information to the many major businesses in the downtown area.

"One of the problems we've had is our ability to communicate in a real-time way with businesses and community leaders about what's going on except through the media," he said. "[The Web site] has helped pacify people, especially in the business area, to give a more personalized access of what's going on."

Canfield said the Web site is a much more effective for disseminating information than providing a toll-free number or relying on media coverage. The city sometimes had to pay for advertising to get information out.

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