Chicago rolling out portal

Chicago home page

In phases during the next six to eight months, Chicago will develop a Web

portal to better serve the city's 3 million residents.

Planning started about two years ago when the city conducted a survey

about electronic government. Angela Ball, the city's deputy chief information

officer, said responses showed that developing a portal was highest among

potential benefits.

While efficient government and cost reductions are benefits that most

governments seek, Ball said convenience for the city's residents and businesses

was the government's main concern. "Our top priority is really not on our

end, behind the scenes...but to the user community," she said. "That's what's

really driving much of this."

With the purchase of software from BroadVision Inc. and the help of

a third-party integrator, Chicago-based Electronic Knowledge Interchange,

city officials will create an enterprisewide electronic permitting and online

bill payment systems. California also used BroadVision software as a flexible

and scalable platform for online transactions and personalization for its

state portal.

Chicago residents currently can pay parking tickets online, and that

application will be folded into the new system. But Ball said the new system

will enable residents to not only make payments but also look up various

types of debt.

The city also will develop an online "permitting wizard" guide to help

citizens, or those who normally don't apply for permits routinely, understand

what they need to get for a particular service. Ball said the guide will

be available for all permits whether or not that permit is available online.

"The permitting process for even some simple tasks is confusing for

the user community," she said. "We will develop an online interactive guide

that would walk the user through, explaining the process of requiring a

permit."

Ball said the city also is working with some independent, quasi-governmental

agencies, such as the Chicago Transit Authority, the city school district

and the parks district, to develop similar applications to benefit users.

Simon King, BroadVision's vice president of advanced strategy, said

the platform would enable the city to push content to wireless devices as

well as let users personalize the portal.

A challenge that cities face in developing a portal is governance, King

said. In Chicago's case, with its 42 administrative departments, one person

should be in charge of overseeing the implementation and development of

the portal by providing a common direction and goal, he said.

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