Residents to get more input with new city software

Published on Saturday, 28 June 2014 23:31 - Written by Kelly Gooch kgooch@tylerpaper.com

Residents soon will have new ways to weigh in on city issues and be able to take a more analytical look at city finances.

The city is in the process of launching multiple software products — one from Granicus and another from OpenGov.

Assistant City Manager/Communications Director Susan Guthrie said the city will launch a resident participation piece of the Granicus product, so there will be a place on the city’s website, as well as on the city’s social media, where residents will give input and post ideas on city happenings and projects.

She said the system also allows people to support or oppose ideas that have been posted, as well as see which ideas are most popular.

Additionally, she said, the system allows the city to post a status on why something was done a certain way or why the city is not able to do a project or initiative. For instance, if funding is not available for a specific initiative, the city could post that, and it might generate a response from someone who wants to donate, Ms. Guthrie said.

Or, she said, a resident could type in something like “dog park” and view any suggestions to do one here.

“It really gives us a way to get citizen input in a really quick way,” Ms. Guthrie said, adding that it also allows anyone who doesn’t want to go to a meeting or mail a letter to submit an idea or find out the status of a project.

It’s “an easy way to share thoughts,” she said.

As far as the second software product, from OpenGov, it was selected because of how nice it was in terms of figuring out financial data, Ms. Guthrie said.

She said residents can currently view the city’s checkbook online, but they can’t sort it by type of expenditure or type of department, or make graphs out of it.

But, she said the new product allows residents to do all of that.

The current “checkbook is not dynamic but static, so this will give dynamic capability,” she said.

So if someone is interested in the biggest contractor being paid, or what projects are costing the most, they could find it with the new software. She described it as “slicing and dicing the information.”

“I think this will really be helpful to citizens so they know what we’re doing and for us internally to analyze our own expenditures,” Ms. Guthrie said.

She said it will take about three or four weeks to launch the two products.

Aside from those products, Wednesday the City Council gave the go-ahead to purchase IBM Cognos Business Intelligence software, which is expected to launch in August.

“The software will allow us to be more proactive to citizen needs rather than reactive,” city of Tyler Geographic/Performance Analytics Manager Dan Allee said in a statement. “One example may be determining which water pipe is likely to break and taking corrective action instead of reacting to a pipe that has already burst. A brief scheduled outage where citizens know ahead of time would be better than experiencing a more lengthy and unscheduled break.”