February 29, 2008 By Karen Stewartson
Seattle is laden with accolades - from its awarding-winning Web site and TV channel, to its new emergency operations center - all under the leadership of Bill Schrier, CTO and director of the city's Department of Information Technology.
In 2006, Seattle.gov was named the top city government portal by the Center for Digital Government because of its rich content, design and operability. Schrier is quick to credit collaboration between the mayor and a team of content providers.
"The biggest thing I would credit is the personal involvement of Mayor Greg Nickels," Schrier said. "He knows the Web is the official portal for Seattle, and is the future way that the city will interact with its constituents or residents and visitors on a whole variety of things."
Seattle's commitment to the site is readily apparent: The highly functional portal features 28 different languages, a comprehensive staff directory for constituents, and a My Neighborhood Map channel, which lets residents view real-time events - such as emergency dispatches - in their neighborhoods through a map-based interface.
Schrier said he's also proud of Seattle's Cable Channel 21, which was named the top U.S. TV channel by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors in 2007. "We were one of the first municipal governments to videotape virtually every city council meeting, which can be downloaded and viewed by anyone who has Internet access," he said. "We also indexed those council meetings so you don't have to view the whole thing to see a particular topic ... we even do things like podcasts."
Schrier said 22 years of military service - where success depends on the right mix of command and collaboration - left him well equipped for his role as Seattle's CTO.
"Ninety-nine percent of the military in a peacetime situation is much more collaborative effort than people commonly think," he said. "In other words, soldiers or officers working together and making decisions together - certainly the commander's got the final decision-making authority. I think that's probably true here in city government too."
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