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Scituate unveils updated town website

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  November 15, 2013 11:33 AM

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Scituate residents looking for everything from storm updates to calendar listings have a new town website to navigate, an upgrade that has taken quite a bit of legwork from town employees.

At a selectmen's meeting on Tuesday, Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi said the website, accessible at www.scituatema.gov, has also meant new email addresses for all 200 town employees, and subsequently all the files from the old system had to be moved over.

Director of Information Technology Bill Sheehan also said getting a .gov domain name has been a cumbersome and lengthy process.

“This is the website, but the back end has been much more time-consuming,” Vinchesi told town officials.

Despite the time and effort it has taken to create a new web page for the town, Sheehan said, the site comes with a slew of upgrades that should make resident interaction more intuitive and streamlined.

“It’s a new design, new interface, I think it’s more easy to navigate,” Sheehan said.

Sheehan pointed to a “citizens action center,” which enables residents to access documents, contact town employees, even subscribe to news with a click of a mouse.

The news function will also have a more detailed list of news options for residents for them to curate the content they wish to be emailed about.

Within the same program, an online services tab will allow residents to pay bills online, learn about recreation programming, view the Geographic Information System (GIS), and pay parking tickets.

A permitting application link will also allow residents to obtain beach stickers and more.

Navigating through a projected image of the website, Sheehan showed a new employment section, alongside an emergency preparedness link that currently goes to a website listing tips on storm preparedness. In the future, the link will feature information for residents who could literally be in the dark.

“As we get into storm season…we have a whole different set of stuff to go up for power outages, contacts. Because the phones interface with the website, we can do those from any locations and get alerts out,” Vinchesi said.

Staff can also post their own agendas and minutes to the website, and both Vinchesi and Sheehan can post news and announcements directly to the page now.

Not to mention the website is formatted to appear in a different view on mobile devices, Sheehan said, holding up his own phone showing the website.

“It’s a work in progress,” Sheehan said. “We’re still migrating content over to the new site. We’ll continue to do so and organize things, and as things come up we have the flexibility with this platform to add new content as we see fit.”

Selectman Rick Murray asked to see a link added to the school websites, to which Vinchesi added that there would be many links to outside organizations whose content couldn’t fit on the new website.

Selectmen ultimately applauded the work.

“It’s such a change and a real improvement,” Selectman John Danahey said.

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