Website Sub-Committee

The City’s website redevelopment sub-committee met on Friday to discuss progress on plans for the new website.

Among the highlights:

  • IBM has been hired to design the technology plan for the new site. (up to $50,000 consulting cost);
  • More public consultations will be held;
  • agendas and minutes have now been added to the new website plan.

Summary

The web development sub-committee is heading in the right direction, albeit more slowly than those of us in the web community would expect of a city with local talent that competes internationally in the IT sector.

While the hiring of IBM for the technology review is very concerning for those who believe the City website should be a platform for improving the community, the final decision will rest with City Council and numerous Councillors are listening to knowledge-experts in our community and their wards.

The HSR promising open data as part of the web redevelopment initiative is a strong indicator the community is being heard.

The staff on the community have been extensively researching open government and web standards.

Progress is being made and there are many reasons to be hopeful.

Scepticism is justified, cynicism is not.

Hiring a consultant, wasting money, the City Hall way

The main development from this meeting is discouraging.

City staff choose to hire IBM as the technology consultant – effectively ensuring the recommendation that will come forth will be closed-source proprietary instead of a proper recommendation – using open source CMSes with an underlying open API to make the City website a platform for improving the our community instead of barrier to local growth.

The City’s hiring of IBM to write the technology plan is not surprising – City Hall is addicted to wasting money on consultants to provide basic research at inflated prices.

The RFP asks for a research report on par with what university programs expect their first year computer engineering students to complete.

At up to $50,000 for this research report, it’s no surprise City Hall states Dialogue Partners provided great value for the over $200,000 we wasted on a project that provided a poorly modified $50 WordPress template, among other under achievements.

Consultants is “business as usual” to City Hall. It will take a more active oversight by City Council and a strong infusion of institutional self-confidence among staff to kick the habit

Signs of hope – website committee listening to community, starting to get “it”

Originally, the web redevelopment project was the very definition of insanity – City Hall was following the same process with effectively the same people that brought about the present embarrassment of a website

This has changed – the website redevelopment committee is hearing community feedback. Three weeks ago, they held a public consultation in the evening at City Hall. During this meeting, staff presented the redevelopment project and took public questions to held guide the process.

In a City Hall first, questions were received from people watching online.

Members of City Council are watching the new website project with the knowledge that another botched online exercise by the City will have consequences, especially in election year 2014 when the new website is scheduled to launch.

City Councillors are not web designers or developers, but they are listening

City Councillor’s are not web designers or developers – they don’t need to be. (And if they were, it’s unlikely they’d take the pay cut to sit on Council)

They are corporate directors and must seek wise counsel. There are many in the community who can provide that, and judging by the reversal of this committee and the promise of open data by the HSR – it appears Council is doing just that.

Let’s hope they listen to the community when the IBM consultants report comes forth proposing a closed-architecture as the foundation of a new city website.

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