Services enhance Memphis portal
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Sep 09, 2002
After a year of internal discussions, citizen focus groups and surveys,
Memphis, Tenn., recently began offering several e-government services
including online parking ticket payments and tee time reservations on city
golf courses through an enhanced portal.
Other applications, launched about a week ago, include property tax
payments, a mapping utility that pinpoints types of crime in a neighborhood,
and the ability to report illegal dumping. Recognizing the growing influence
of its Latino residents, the city also has created a Spanish-language version
of the Web site via an "Espanol" tab on the home page (www.cityofmemphis.org).
City officials last year decided it would build a one-stop portal to
offer residents and visitors information about history, cultural activities
and entertainment as well as municipal, county, state and federal government
services. Putting as much of that as possible into the site would mean users
wouldn't have "to toggle between different Web sites," said Dan Weddle,
general manager of the Memphis office of Quilogy, a St. Charles, Mo.-based
IT consulting company that has been helping the city develop its e-government
Mayor Willie Herenton and the city council "really are committed financially
as well as with an overall strategy to put together the plans and the projects
to make that happen. It's not just lip service," Weddle said.
Quilogy, which also hosts the city applications, built a static city
Web site a year ago with more than 300 pieces of information, but then improved
and expanded that with the Microsoft Corp. .Net framework and a content
management tool, said Travis Dickson, a senior consultant for the company.
The new applications are a result of several surveys and focus groups
conducted to find out what citizens would want first. Liaisons in various
city divisions ferret out information, and the portal can be dynamically
updated via the Internet so users will always see current information, Dickson
said. He added that the company also spent about 20 hours a week over the
past year updating the site's content.
Although the enhanced portal has been online for only a week, Dickson
said the city is seeing "fairly significant revenues" from property tax
payments and traffic fines. He also said the site has been averaging about
240,000 page views a month over the past year, but that number has jumped
recently with the portal launch.
The Spanish-language version site (www.cityofmemphis.org/defaultES.asp) has its own look and feel and information
tailored to the Latino community, which is about 10 percent of the city's
650,000 population. Focus groups of Latino residents organized by the Mayor's
Office of Multicultural Religious Affairs (OMRA) helped shape the site's
design and functionality. Content updates by OMRA are approved by members
of the focus groups and are translated by a person, said Dickson. Officials
also are interested in creating a Vietnamese language site, Weddle said,
and the city will continue to add more applications as more feedback is
About two years ago, Memphis outsourced its information technology department
and services to SCT, whose state and local division has since been purchased
by Affiliated Computer Services Inc. Under the contract, the company was
to plan, manage, staff, operate and support the city's data processing and
telecommunication services, application software development, help desk
and system security, among other services. Quilogy is an ACS partner.