Seventeen state and municipal governments were recognized by the Public Technology Institute (PTI) on Monday, May 23, with Web 2.0 State and Local Government Awards for Excellence. The awards were given for innovative use of Web 2.0 applications and social media tools to engage citizens, improve efficiency and increase accountability.

The award winners, which included seven cities, five states, four counties and one city/county, showcased cross-coordination and functionality for items such as Facebook, Twitter, e-town halls, citizen service request portals, mobile apps, live webchats and multimedia sharing that are targeted to residents, visitors, businesses and employees.

“Fundamentally the awards are to raise awareness of the power of Web 2.0 and social media for governments and to encourage that use,” said Susan Cable, program manager of PTI’s Citizen-Engaged Communities and Web 2.0 programs. “By identifying best practices and sharing that information, other governments can get a vision of how they can be utilized.”

The 17 winning government entities:

• Utah

• California

• Indiana

• Texas

• New York

• Miami-Dade County, Fla.

• Fairfax County, Va.

• Pinellas County, Fla.

• Montgomery County, Md.

• New York, N.Y.

• Corpus Christi, Texas

• Menifee, Calif.

• Richland, Wash.

• Arvada, Colo.

• Santa Monica, Calif.

• Chesapeake, Va.

• Denver, Colo. (city/county)

Thirty-nine applications were received by PTI in consideration for the awards. Split into three sections, each application collected information on how governments are using Web 2.0 and social media, how the use of each item was approached in relation to stated goals and the overall use of data integration by each government.

PTI scored all the applications on a point system, with the winners achieving a score of 85 points or more. Award categories included Civic Engagement, Accountability and Transparency, Mobile Application, Innovative Technology, Internal Web 2.0 Advocacy, Coordination and Support, Public Safety and Economic Development.

The winning governments will be able to display a special “Web 2.0 Enabled” logo from PTI on their various Web platforms and will be mentioned in various communications by PTI. In addition to PTI, the awards program is also supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Examples of winning applications included Chesapeake, Va.’s Fun Forest Facebook page built to raise awareness and money to rebuild the city’s burned section of Fun Forest. The page has more than 2,000 active monthly users and $87,767 was raised to help repair the recreational area.

Santa Monica, Calif., was spotlighted for its XML feed that makes real-time parking information available to the public, including the number of parking spaces available in the city. The information is displayed on a city webpage with the number of spaces being updated every 60 seconds.

Arvada, Colo., received the award for its virtual city hall. Called “ASK Arvada,” the tool is designed to increase customer service by providing access to answers and the ability to request service with every department in the city. Requests can be sent through various mediums, including the Web, Twitter and smartphones.

Chris Longshore, information systems manager for Arvada, explained that while ASK Arvada isn’t new for the city, having launched in 2007, the recognition it has received provides even more incentive to push the envelope.

“For us, it is validation,” Longshore said. “It’s easy for me to motivate my staff to do new things ... by winning awards and being recognized [it shows] people use and like this and it allows us to continue to do our jobs.”

Brian Heaton  |  Senior Writer

Brian Heaton is a senior writer for Government Technology. He primarily covers technology legislation and IT policy issues. Brian started his journalism career in 1998, covering sports and fitness for two trade publications based in Long Island, N.Y. He's also a member of the Professional Bowlers Association, and competes in regional tournaments throughout Northern California and Nevada.