- The City of Orlando has created a digital team dedicated to maintaining a new website to make city services available to residents 24 hours a day.
- Through the website, residents can report problems, pay or appeal parking tickets, get building permits and virtually explore their neighborhoods. In a guest post, Mayor Buddy Dyer said governments "have lagged far behind in ensuring that government services [online] are designed for the user," according to the Orlando Sentinel.
- The full version of the website is expected to go live by the end of the year; currently a limited alpha version is available.
Dyer highlights government inefficiencies regarding citizen communication and accessibility to the technology that makes carrying out everyday tasks easier. And Dyer’s goal, which the Orlando Sentinel said is to embed technology further in the city, is increasingly necessary as cities look to get smarter before they're left behind.
But introducing a new website and a new digital team is just one small step on the road to more integrated technology in Orlando’s city government, rather than as a watershed moment. Other cities are far ahead in innovations, with mobile apps developed by local companies allowing similarly streamlined services through residents’ smartphones.
And perhaps that is one of Dyer’s goals down the road. The Orlando Sentinel reports he wants to introduce a system where customers could take a photograph of a pothole and then receive an automatic push request to ask if they want to report it for repair. "I think our focus in tech is a clear result of that mindset and the ability of our community to continue to put value in innovation in everything we do," he said.
Part of becoming a "smart city" is about making it easier for citizens to interact with their local government. With new technologies being rolled out in the private sector, the onus is on government to take advantage. "I think when people saw they could call an Uber on their phone, they wondered why they couldn’t track snowplows too," Kate Garman, smart cities coordinator at the City of Seattle, said during a panel discussion at last month’s Smart Cities Connect conference.