GLENS FALLS — The city of Glens Falls wants to spruce up its dated-looking website and improve technology throughout the various departments.
The Common Council’s technology committee met recently to discuss its priorities.
Diana Palmer, chairwoman of the committee, said the city is not using the full capabilities of website vendor CivicPlus.
Palmer said there is a new version of the software that has a larger font size and allows people who are visually impaired to listen to certain things. The new version has higher security, brighter color contrast and the ability to update pages in real time.
Palmer showed off some other cities’ websites that use this same vendor, including Inglewood, California and Portland, Maine. There is the option to add a video on the home page, or a banner photo. There are large buttons that take people to the various sections of the website.
Palmer said the city’s current website is somewhat hard to navigate.
“When you go to our page, it seems like it’s going to be a lot of work to find what I need,” she said.
Councilwoman-at-Large Jane Reid agreed that it is difficult to find information at a glance. She was trying to find the time of the Water & Sewer Commission meeting and could not. Another issue is the website is displayed awkwardly when viewed on a mobile device.
The upgraded website would have the ability to facilitate electronic payments. The city’s ability to do that now is limited, according to Palmer.
Palmer said the representative from the company is willing to demonstrate the features.
It would not take a lot of effort to upgrade the website, Palmer said.
“They can just migrate the content we want to keep from the old system to the new system,” she said.
Palmer said she also wants to pursue a mass notification system. The city could explore ways to be able to send out alerts via text messages, email or other means. It could range from snow emergencies or leaf pickups to special events or when the next board meeting is.
Palmer said the city could even isolate a geographic region to which to target the message, for example, if a water main break affects a certain neighborhood.
Another issue that Palmer wants to tackle is standardizing technology in the city, which is currently using different software and systems in various departments.
Councilwoman-at-Large Jane Reid said the problem has been a lack of coordination in technology purchases.
“Each department over time bought their own hardware and software,” she said.
Councilman Jim Campinell said some equipment is getting old.
“If you’ve got an 8-year-old computer, you’re probably way ahead,” he said.
Another problem is a lack of city staff. Reid said the city’s informational technology staff at one point consisted of a firefighter who helped out part time, but that employee retired.
Palmer said perhaps the city might want to hire an IT consultant.
“I think we need somebody not only for what we have here, but in the future there’s always new stuff coming out. The minute you get something, it’s already outdated,” he said.
Palmer would also like to explore an electronic timekeeping system. Vacation time and sick leave and hours worked are currently tracked manually.
Campinell said the city should make an effort to televise the city’s meetings. Look TV stopped broadcasting the meetings when it lost a sponsorship and could not afford to do it.
Reid said televised city meetings would capture a segment of the audience that is not as versed in technology.
“They’re not necessarily going to find an updated website informative,” she said.