CI.Maple-Grove.MN.US has been recognized by Juggle as one of the top city government websites in the state of Minnesota. Below you'll find an interview with Carol Morris of the City of Maple Grove's Administration Department.
- CI.Maple-Grove.MN.US is a top-notch web portal; what has been your role in its development?
The City’s website was really a team effort, made up of City staff led by our former IS Director. Staff reviewed a wide variety of municipal websites for features that we liked and tried to incorporate many of those into the Maple Grove site. In addition, staff met with various developers that specialize in government websites to select the one that best fit our budget as well as vision. Staff worked closely with that developer to fine tune the features and information available to create a user-friendly, welcoming and attractive site.
- What are the overarching objectives of Maple Grove’s current e-government initiatives?
The main focus is to keep in touch with the residents. We want to provide them with up-to-date information and be a good resource for the various services they need to know for their day-to-day living. Even though they may be contacting us electronically, we want them to know there is a real person on the City’s end who is there to help them and provide the answers/information they need.
People turn toward the Internet more and more for information. With such features as online job application, permitting, class/program registration, service notification and much more, visitors to the Maple Grove website can interact with their City 24-7.
Staff also strives to use the website to engage residents in their community—news, events, amenities, parks and recreation programs, online meetings, and volunteer opportunities all bring value and provide a connection to encourage them to more than just live in Maple Grove but to be an informed, active member and enjoy all there is to offer.
- From a marketing standpoint, what are some of the strategies that you have utilized to draw attention to the information and services provided by CI.Maple-Grove.MN.US, both on- and off-line?
For the most part, the website has been speaking for itself. Through the City newsletter, we have had articles about website features and how residents/businesses can take advantage of them. The Parks and Recreation brochure emphasizes usage of e-connect for Parks and Rec program registration in addition to a wealth of classes, trips, and sports programs as well as the many amenities available at the Community Center and Town Green. In addition, as some people still hesitate to provide an email, through paper communications, transit riders and farmers market customers are still encouraged to visit the City’s website for updates and current happenings.
- How has citizen feedback influenced the development of Maple Grove’s e-government services?
The City of Maple Grove welcomes and listens to feedback from its citizens. We strive to make our customers experience online positive and user friendly. eServices offer residents a quick, convenient way to communicate with the City about any issue or complaint and allows for residents to provide feedback and creative solutions to the City.
- What is the most-used feature or service on the site?
eSubscribe offers residents a way to sign up and receive e-mails based on events or information they are interested in. Residents can sign up to receive e-mails on: senior programs, farmers market, town green performances, road construction updates, city council minutes and much more. This feature provides residents a great way to stay involved and be updated as soon as new information becomes available.
- You combine specific information for community members such as teens and kids; how does this help Maple Grove connect more with individual groups within the community?
The City of Maple Grove strives to connect with all residents. Creating areas specifically towards, teens, seniors, new residents, etc. gives citizens a place to find information specific to them and helps them be more involved in community activities, events and programs City has to offer.
- What led you to add a video tour book of Maple Grove rather that just textual information? How does it provide a more interactive look at the community?
The video tour book was developed at no charge to the City through the National League of Cities (NLC). NLC contracted with CGI Communications in New York to work with municipalities throughout the nation to develop a personalized video promotional piece. CGI sent a videographer who visited Maple Grove for two days and was accompanied by staff to various points of interest relating to business, recreation, education, real estate, health, shopping, dining, etc. as well as the welcome by the Mayor. In addition, City staff worked closely with CGI representatives on the script for the video, and then their sales reps visited local businesses to garner advertising support and promotion for their own businesses through the video tour book.
- Where do you see e-government heading in the next 2-3 years? Are there any exciting new features or services currently in the works for Maple Grove’s web portal?
We do foresee the use of more online applications and fine tuning those currently on the website. The City is considering stronger survey/polling capabilities as an additional source for input from the community. Staff continues to work with our local cable programming to provide more videos highlighting various news, events and amenities.
- Is there anything else you would like to tell us about CI.Maple-Grove.MN.US?
The City of Maple Grove will continue to develop new features and provide innovative ways to keep all residents informed and have access to City services.