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Government Websites in 5 Cities and Counties Win Vision Internet “What’s Next” Awards for Online Innovation

Marion County & Palm Bay, Fla., Reno, Nev., San Angelo, Texas and Grande Prairie in Alberta, Canada Stand Out in Company’s First Annual Competition

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Vision Internet, innovators in online government, today announced the winners of its inaugural “What’s Next” Awards competition, which recognizes local government websites for excellence in five categories: transparency, citizen engagement, online innovation, green gov and visual impact.

The 2014 winners of Vision Internet’s What’s Next Awards are:

Marion County, Florida, marioncountyfl.org – Transparency
City of Palm Bay, Florida, palmbayflorida.org – Online Innovation
City of Reno, Nevada, reno.gov  – Citizen Engagement
City of Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada, cityofgp.com – Green Gov
City of San Angelo, Texas, cosatx.us - Visual Impact

“In this digital age, municipal websites have become the go-to source of information for residents and the first impression for visitors, businesses and families thinking of moving into a community,” said Ashley Fruechting, Vision Internet’s director of strategic initiatives. “Our What’s Next Awards spotlight municipalities that exemplify how local government can embrace innovative technology to transform their organizations and enhance community interaction.”

Today’s citizens demand transparency, so agencies must go above and beyond to share information with residents using online tools. Marion County’s new website does just that; it provides quick and easy access to useful and accurate information, earning it the What’s Next: Transparency Award. The website allows City staff to respond to citizen inquiries faster, while residents can sign up for e-Notifications in selected categories and easily share City information via social media.

The City of Palm Bay earned What’s Next: Online Innovation honors by turning its website into a community information warehouse. Visitors can quickly and easily pay utility bills, view and download forms, submit citizen service requests and much more. Since its launch in March 2014, the City website has seen an increase in registered users and site traffic.

Fresh ideas and state-of-the-art online tools made the City of Reno a standout in the What’s Next: Citizen Engagement category. The City’s new website provides visitors with a positive and engaging online experience. Its #thinkreno campaign gives citizens an interactive forum to share ideas that will help improve their community.

Green Gov streamlines the “business” of government by reducing material resources required for council meetings, job applications, FOIA requests and other common processes. From litter reports, online environmental publications and a comprehensive ecological directory to department newsletters, the City of Grande Prairie has efficiently utilized its website to promote a healthy environment for its community. Going from print to digital is saving some $4,300 per year plus countless hours of staff time, making Grande Prairie this year’s What’s Next: Green Gov Award winner.

The City of San Angelo won What’s Next: Visual Impact honors for turning its drab, static, and confused website into one with order, vibrancy, color and compelling photos. The City’s website now reflects the community’s unique spirit and charm.

“Digital technology – from social media to text messaging and interactive websites – is a major force helping to increase citizen participation and foster greater accountability of governments at all levels,” said Fruechting. “As the relationships between citizens and public institutions change, our job as government website developers is to continue to look for what’s next on the horizon to help local governments anticipate and meet the changing needs of their constituents.”

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