Online communication is changing the way governments interact with their citizens.
In the past, keeping the public informed and getting to the root of their concerns could often be time-consuming and challenging, only reaching a select audience with the means to attend council meetings or community events.
The many avenues for online communication makes access to a wider audience (more citizens with varying points of view) quick, easy and effective.
The City of Burlington wanted citizens to know that what they have to say matters to the City, and that their opinions will help foster change and direct decision-making. Through their efforts to better understand their community, including their expectations of the City, Burlington discovered that the public's need for easy-to-use online services, opportunities to stay informed, and online platforms to share their ideas and get involved should be a top priority.
With such a large portion of the community preferring to complete daily tasks online, the City of Burlington responded with their E-Government program. This program gave our web development and design team digitally-focused goals to integrate online solutions and services that reflect a customer-first, internet-first, technology enabled, transparent and involved municipal government.
How we did it
Our web development team made it a priority to include features that would help increase the number of citizens taking an active interest in the decision-making process and changes happening in their community. Through the City of Burlington's new, responsive website, citizens are now able to voice their concerns, communicate their ideas and provide their input from the comfort of their own home or even on-the-go. The tools for communication are accessible anytime, anywhere.
An e-Government for an e-world
Aside from delivering a unique service-oriented web experience, in order to meet Burlington's E-Government policy
and principles, our team added a number of support features and online services, including:
- Opportunities for more public involvement
- An interactive community calendar with public event submission and ability to subscribe to notifications
- Integration of third party e-billing, e-payment and online registration services
- Interactive online mapping, including a module for a full Parks and Facilities Listing
- Online complaint forms to meet the requirements of Bill 8, Public Sector and MPP Accountability
and Transparency Act
- Online staff compliment form and feedback forms
- Responsive web design and mobile-ready online services, such as service request submissions
and parking ticket payment
- A news module for easy, fast and efficient widespread notifications
Empowering the community
Burlington's new website is designed to take community engagement from informing the public to empowering the public on the International Association of Public Participation Spectrum. The site provides a safe and welcoming online environment for citizens to get involved and help City staff make informed decisions.
The Burlington Community Engagement Charter - created by citizens with the support of City staff - gave our web development team a strong foundation for introducing the unique feature of a "Get Involved" landing page. This section of the website allows visitors to easily access opportunities to contribute their opinions and ideas, as well as stay informed about community projects, changes and future plans. It also opens a dialogue between the City and the community, providing the necessary tools to keep that conversation going.
We supported other objectives of the Burlington Community Engagement Charter through the development and design of the City's new website, including:
- Using clear language - our content writers used web accessible language that was also developed with the Burlington audience in mind
- Providing opportunities for city feedback - online feedback forms are accessible on every page of the website
- Providing early and widespread notification - i:Create's news module is designed to make informing your audience easy and efficient
- Promoting a sense of openness - the tone, style and overall look and feel of the new website is welcoming and honest
- Offering easy access to information - visitors to the website can find what they're looking for quickly, easily and in multiple locations
Our design team created a website with ample space for exciting, beautiful images. Scrolling visuals on the Burlington homepage and enticing calls to actions are the first step towards getting visitors more involved, because having online tools and communication platforms available is one thing, but engaging your audience to use these opportunities is another.
We focused on meeting citizen expectations through a community focus group that allowed us to better understand the needs of the Burlington citizens.
The website is full of compelling calls to actions, strong visuals and community-focused content, while the inclusion of online forms acts as the gateway for citizens to communicate with each other and the City about current issues, concerns, future plans and ongoing improvements.
Using i:Create, Burlington's website is now not only easy to update and maintain, but also seamlessly integrates third party billing and registration systems. Several add-ons within i:Create also allowed us to design user-friendly forms, calendars and notification systems, adding another level of service for citizens.