Poughkeepsie... The awards just keep piling up for Dutchess County Government. For the second time in just two months, Dutchess County has been ranked in the national top ten for technological innovation. Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus and Office of Computer Information Systems Commissioner Timothy Mahler have announced the county’s website http://www.dutchessny.gov/ has been named as one of the ten best County government websites in the nation. The Center for Digital Government named Dutchess County as a top ten finalist in its 2009 Best of the Web Awards.
“Our county website, http://www.dutchessny.gov/, is an invaluable tool for residents who are looking for information about county programs and services,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “Our website is open 24/7, allowing people to get to the info they need when they need it. It saves residents time and money and is environmentally friendly because a trip to county office buildings is no longer required to get what they need.”
The Center for Digital Government’s Best of the Web ranks the top government Web portals, recognizing advances in digital solutions and communication with citizens, government communities and business. In July, the Center for Digital Government ranked Dutchess County Government as #2 in the nation as one of the most digitally-advanced county governments in the country among counties in the 250,000-499,000 population category. This prior award recognized the county’s advances in computer technologies, ranging from internal county applications to streamlined procedures that add to the operational efficiency of the county. The Best of the Web award was given regardless of population. Dutchess competed against counties with populations exceeding two million people; making this top ten ranking even more impressive.
The voluminous amount of information available has made the County’s website a favorite bookmarked website for many residents. Over the past five years, “web pages served” have increased from approximately 60,000 to 985,000 per month, an astounding 1,700% increase. Whether a resident is searching for information on swine flu or how to reserve a facility at one of the county parks, it is all there at http://www.dutchessny.gov/. There is even an “All Services Directory” which lists information beyond county government, making http://www.dutchessny.gov/ a one stop shopping web destination.
This year, new initiatives were added to the County website, including voice enable and language translation services in response to the growing diversity of the Dutchess County’s population. Online visitors can have web pages “read aloud” by simply clicking the “Listen to Content” button at the top of the page. This feature benefits those with sight impairment, low literacy, dyslexia as well as those for whom English is a second language. Additionally, users are just one click away from having Web site text translated in a variety of languages.
Office of Computer Information Systems Commissioner Timothy Mahler cited the ParcelAccess application, which provides on-line access to Real Property parcel and assessment data integrated with interactive county maps, as a great example of the efforts to work smarter and think greener. “ParcelAccess saves time, energy and fuel by avoiding a trip to County offices or local municipal offices,” said Commissioner Mahler. ParcelAccess was used by more than 75,000 unique visitors in the past year, including 10,000 “power-users” who utilized the application with more than 100 annual visits. According to Commissioner Mahler, “Using a very conservative savings estimate of $1,000 per “power user”, ParcelAccess saved more $10,000,000 last year in time-savings and travel costs in addition to the cost avoidance for local government agencies who longer have to handle thousands of information requests.”
The Center for Digital Government’s 2009 Best of the Web awards were judged by a panel of experts on wide range of categories, including site accessibility, innovation, cost-savings, ease of use and exceptional service to the public. The Center for Digital Government is a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government.
County Executive Steinhaus concluded, “We are truly fortunate to have such great team in our OCIS department, whose ideas and collaboration have produced digital solutions that benefit our residents. It is certainly an impressive achievement to be among the Top Ten best county websites in the entire nation.”