MiamiBeachFl.gov has been recognized by Juggle as one of the top city government websites in the state of Florida. Below you'll find an interview with Diana Candela, E-Government Administrator of Miami Beach.
- MiamiBeachFL.gov is a top-notch web portal; what has been your role in its development?
My role in the MiamiBeachFL.gov portal was to facilitate the entire development process using best practices for public sector web sites, including lifecycle analysis, design and testing. I conceptualized the interface design after participating in a series of fact finding interviews (Joint Action Development-JAD) to gather information. In addition, I was an avid member of a web users group consisting of IT, Communications and Senior City staff in order to discuss current industry standards and feasibility of projects and/or concepts for implementation.
- Can you summarize the history of Miami Beach's web portal?
The City of Miami Beach’s web presence has evolved over the past couple of years to become a key communication channel for a wide variety of audiences, both internal and external. There was a need for a standard design with content to reflect the City of Miami Beach’s brand identity. The general goal of the new portal was to provide comprehensible online services to our constituents (residents, visitors and business). Previously, navigation and information was decentralized with multiple links and styles of navigation. A centralized Portal Style navigation theme and an enterprise-wide Content Management System (CMS) were implemented to provide our constituents with up-to date information. All Services and information can now be easily found on a portal instead of being buried several pages deep. A recent community survey reported significant increase in satisfaction with the website.
- What are the overarching objectives of Miami Beach's current e-government initiatives?
We are dedicated to providing technology tools through strategic e-government initiatives that enhance the City of Miami Beach’s ability to expand hours with Online Services to our constituents. Our cost-effective and user-friendly Online Services reduce costs and increase efficiencies enterprise-wide.
- From a marketing standpoint, what are some of the strategies that you have utilized to draw attention to the information and services provided by MiamiBeachFL.gov, both on- and off-line?
We take full advantage of the social networking medium including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to stay in touch and current with our community. Our main page has also been optimized to highlight the most important information and services available. In addition, through a coordinated interdepartmental effort, we make sure that our constituents are kept informed of any new available services by sending out letters, contacting local media, advertising on our local TV channel or publications and email campaigns.
- How has citizen feedback influenced the development of Miami Beach's e-government services?
The City Manager’s Office, in close collaboration with the IT Department, is committed to bringing City Hall to residents and businesses virtually. Feedback on what services would be most helpful to provide online and how these improve turnaround times and City services are a critical factor in our e-government strategy. Feedback is always encouraged and seriously taken into consideration. We take great pride in our quest for improving transparency, user experience, collaboration, involvement, and innovation. Citizen feedback is a key part of that process.
- What is the most-used feature or service on the site?
The most used feature is our Online Job Application System where candidates can view and apply for available City jobs. The most used service is our Online Utility Bill Payment System which allows utility customers to view utility bill information and make payments online by Check or Credit Card 24/7. In addition, not far behind are innovative services such as the Commission Agenda Item List Summary, the Commission Committee Referral Tracking System, and the Special Master hearing Dates and Agendas Live System.
- How does your website allow for greater accessibility to government information through its dual-language content?
We tailor to our constituents’ needs by providing information in both English and Spanish (the two most predominantly spoken languages in our area). By providing resources in Spanish, it enhances our ability to reach out and connect with our Spanish-speaking community.
- In what ways has social media (Facebook, Flickr, etc.) allowed you to connect more directly and personally with the citizens of Miami Beach?
We enjoy staying in touch with our constituents and being aware of their opinions. With almost 3,000 Facebook friends and over 4,500 followers on Twitter, social networking has allowed us to expand beyond the City Hall walls to communicate information to different audiences, interact, and discuss current topics with our community.
- 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 Miami Beach's web portal?
We continue to strive to create more secure and reliable online services and accessibility to e-government with enhanced systems integration. There are many exciting services currently in the works for the Miami Beach web portal, you’ll have to wait and see.
- What else that you would like to tell us about MiamiBeachFL.gov?
In just a couple of years, we've implemented a CMS and made the creation and enhancement of Online Services a top priority. The implementation of the CMS has allowed City Departments and Divisions to create, own and control the content published to their own portals. Due to this new found empowerment, our website has grown exponentially. Visits to our website have dramatically increased. MiamiBeachFL.gov has become an enterprise-wide, mission critical application and an integral part of the organizations’ current business process.