February 2, 2011 By Andy Opsahl
Seattle launched a new website this week allowing citizens to customize Seattle.gov’s home page to display only the services relevant to them. On My.Seattle.Gov, users can add a widget to view crime stats for their neighborhoods, news feeds, events occurring in their communities and Seattle Channel Live videos.
The customization functionality is modeled after Google’s customization tool iGoogle, said Bruce Blood, citywide Web manager for the Seattle Department of Information Technology. “We have a lot of content that could be sliced in all sorts of ways. We have a pretty extensive event calendar at this point,” he said.
Users who spent a lot of time on the city’s portal before likely will use the new customization features the most, Blood said. Some vendors contracted with the city, for example, have voiced their interest in the customizing function. But everyday residents who rarely have a reason to visit Seattle.gov might not bother with the function, Blood said.
Seattle’s Office of the Mayor used the launch as an occasion to announce Seattle.gov’s single sign-on function. Having been in place since 2009, the single sign-on is a work in progress. It aims to authenticate users with one sign-on to access the roughly 50 services on Seattle.gov that usually require individual registrations. So far, the single sign-on covers the following services: Residents can use the single sign-on to submit electronic Department of Planning and Development permits and watch their permits progress through the system. Police reports can be seen via the single sign-on, and Seattle Department of Transportation employees can use it to access a project management tool for interacting with vendors.
Blood plans to add more services during 2011, although he couldn’t specify a number. The agencies supporting the other registration-required services need to adjust their processes to the single sign-on, and persuading them to do so can be difficult, said Blood.
“It takes a while to sell it,” he said.
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