Best of the Web

The first

by / December 31, 1995 0
When technology companies look for a place to expand they are seeking a strong telecommunications infrastructure, an area with strong economic growth, an educated work force and an attractive business climate. The Kansas City Area Development Council has developed an area economic development strategy to fulfill these requirements and attract businesses.

The council, an economic development organization supported by 150 corporate and 25 government partners, has turned to technology to deliver the message that Kansas City is the place for business. A site visit to the Kansas City area might include the usual meetings with business and government leaders. But instead of driving to locations throughout the metropolitan area, visits are conducted via two-way interactive video conferences.

Thanks to Southwestern Bell's installation of ISDN throughout the area, and the "wiring" of government and business leaders' desktops, corporate representatives can meet with leaders all over the area on very short notice -- without the jet lag.

The council's efforts are spearheaded by Wayne Little, a former AT&T vice president, whose vision included the telecommunications infrastructure that makes Kansas City so attractive to technology industry companies. Kansas City's work toward becoming one of America's smart cities was assisted by a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Commerce Department and some aggressive marketing. The council has also been using a site on the World Wide Web to provide interested companies with any information an expanding company might need.

Additionally, the council uses the site to tie together its government and corporate partners by pointing to their Web sites. Each company and community can showcase their strengths without appearing competitive. The result is a seamless presentation that exudes cooperation and beckons companies to consider the area.

According to Martin Mini, marketing director for the council, they track nearly one-third of the 1,000 hits on their Web site each day to corporate visitors. That translates to leads for the organization. In addition to the online request for information provided on the home page, the council has begun tracing leads from the Web site to provide additional information.

"Truthfully, we weren't prepared for the amount of attention we would have to give the Web site," Mini said. "We had visitors for a long time that we simply couldn't get to for follow-up." The council has operated the Web site for slightly over a year and is pleased with the results. According to Mini, "We see
an increasing role for the Web in our office that will require some full-time attention. Besides the current information, we intend to use the Web site to provide developers with all of the area zoning ordinances and building regulations." The Web site is clearly only one aspect of the strategy Kansas City uses to attract business, but it represents the power of the medium and a growing trend among public and private sector organizations using the World Wide Web to publish and distribute information and deliver services.

The fact is the Internet has been transforming government service delivery for some time. Federal government agencies have long used the Internet to distribute massive amounts of information. About a year ago, the trend turned toward the creation of Web sites to achieve the distribution goal and expand upon it. Agencies are using Web servers to deliver services in addition to static information. The Social Security Administration stores compressed files of a program citizens can use to calculate their anticipated social security benefits. The IRS makes the myriad forms they require available for online access. The IRS forms are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In other words, at the convenience of citizens. While convenience is frequently cited as one of the attractions of Web-based services, it is access to government that, for many,
is much easier than trying to fit a trip to the local federal government building into a lunch hour.

State and local governments are not far behind in turning to the Web for online delivery of services. Several state and local government sites have been recognized for innovative use of this technology. Many states are using Web sites to attract potential tourists and developers with online travel and business development information. Utah was recognized with a National Information Infrastructure (NII) award for their use of the Internet to connect the public library system statewide. The Utah library Web site demonstrates the Web's ability to deliver access to many online databases of information the state maintains, as well as access to interlibrary loans of resources.

Florida uses their Web site to create one-stop centers of information for employment, business development and tourism. The state of Texas provides interested corporations with market and information resources through the Texas-One area of the Web site. These are but a few examples of efforts currently under way to expand the reach of government service by making use of electronic delivery.

Michael Nevins is a co-founder and director of State Technologies Inc., a nonprofit research group. State Technologies publishes the web service Government On Line: E-mail address:


Best of the Web Awards
Government Technology, in association with State Technologies Inc., the University of California at Davis, the Nelson A. Rockefeller School of Public Policy and Affairs at the State University of New York, Public Technology Inc., and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), is pleased to announce a competition for state and local government World Wide Web pages. The First State and Local Government Best of the Web Awards is intended to foster innovative use of the Web to deliver better and more effective services to citizens while giving state and local governments the chance to showcase their efforts.

Online proposals will be accepted beginning Jan. 1, 1996 through the home pages of both Government Technology and Government On Line . Each site will list the full criteria for application. The competition is open to any state agency or local government agency using the Web. Applications will be judged on content organization and presentation, program service delivery, and cost justification (i.e. savings realized or services increased through the use of the Web site). A team of judges will review all applications and make final selections. A representative of each of the top winners will be invited to attend an award ceremony to be held in conjunction with the Eastern Regional Government Technology Conference, September 18-20, 1996 in Albany, N.Y. Applications will only be taken online. All qualified government Web publishers are encouraged to apply. *

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