Connecting the voices of Detroiters to the ears of their government
The City of Detroit envisions a bi-directional, centralized online information platform that will keep its citizens in the know about their government, encourage reciprocal feedback, create a forum for fresh ideas, and foster a culture of accountability. This platform would transform how Detroiters interact with the City and create opportunities for engagement.
The City already has plans to revamp its website so that more timely information is captured and user experience is improved, but Detroit wants to do more: a steady stream of news about developments underway in City Hall and in the neighborhoods, a direct link to services and progress reports, and information about the many initiatives taking place across the city.
It’s easy to get mired in the grim news about Detroit’s finances, but those who live and work in Detroit know there is a lot to be optimistic about. An important part of attracting and retaining residents and businesses is giving people good information about the city and its government. Further, the City is actively seeking ways to engage the public and make sure that public operations are in line with their priorities.
The City of Detroit envisions a bi-directional online information platform that will keep its citizens in the know about their government, encourage reciprocal feedback, create a forum for fresh ideas, and foster a culture of accountability. This platform would transform how Detroiters interact with the City and create opportunities for engagement with real services through a centralized virtual portal.
The City already has plans to revamp its website so that more timely information is captured and user experience is improved. Fixing broken links, streamlining navigation tools, and supporting a responsive design format so that content is legible on different devices are all part of the quick upgrade already in the works. Part of this update will making the local cable channel playable within the City’s website, so visitors can see news from multiple media channels in one place.
But Detroit wants to do more, and it needs outside funding to get there. The City aims to provide a steady stream of news about developments underway in City Hall and in the neighborhoods. Sharing these details with contact information will help to activate individuals and organizations committed to rebuilding their communities. The website will be an online lifeline for its citizens, a direct link to the City’s services, information, and progress reports.
With so many exciting projects underway in Detroit, the City also hopes to connect to information about the many initiatives taking place across the city. These informational bridges will create a much-needed point of intersection between public and private efforts in Detroit, promote public-private partnerships, and encourage mutual promotion of positive developments.
In ONE sentence, tell us about your project to strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation.
The City of Detroit plans to implement a sophisticated online platform—including a dynamic City website, a site for promotion of private and public local activity, and an enhanced landing page for businesses—that will bring the voices of Detroiters to the ears of their government and make that government more responsive and accountable.
Who will benefit from what you propose? What have you observed that makes you think that?
The citizens and government of Detroit will jointly benefit this online overhaul. The City’s current website is flat; there is no site dedicated to cross-promotion of public and private efforts to improve quality of life in Detroit. Vendor information needs to be more business-friendly. The people of Detroit are hungry for a more approachable, informative, and responsive local government.
What progress have you made so far?
From Day One, Detroit’s new Administration has focused on stabilizing and growing the city’s neighborhoods, but in order to make the bright vision a reality, there needs to be engagement between Detroit’s government and people. The development of a more dynamic Web presence, more reliable information systems, and better user interface is already underway. The City has begun a rapid-fire upgrade of its website to enhance navigation and information quality, and also to build a more responsive design format to accommodate different devices.
What would be a successful outcome for your idea or project?
Immediately, the success would be a fully realized website that radically changes the way Detroit and its people learn information from each other. Over time, this platform would enable citizens to inform the City on community concerns and aid the City in addressing these needs. Ultimately, the success would be a system that enables strategic, data-driven decision making, allowing for a prioritization of where and how services should be delivered, providing cost and time savings for both the City and its citizens.
Who is on your team, and what are their relevant experiences or skills?
Deputy Chief of Staff Melissa Smiley: In her role as Deputy Chief of Staff, Melissa Smiley supports Chief of Staff Lisa Howze in efficiently managing various city departments and the Mayor's office. Smiley previously was an assistant director at Data Driven Detroit (D3), a non-profit that provides accessible, high-quality information and analysis to drive informed public and private sector decision-making. Her work at D3 coincided with her role as a member of the inaugural class of Detroit Revitalization Fellows. This fellowship program assigned mid-career professionals to organizations throughout Detroit to provide additional capacity to accomplish their missions. In her role at D3, Smiley initiated a restructuring effort that significantly improved organizational efficiency and project management. Smiley holds a PhD in Epidemiologic Science and a Master’s degree in Public Health, as well as a Master’s degree in Urban Planning, from the University of Michigan. She conducted her undergraduate work in Urban Studies at Bryn Mawr College, outside of Philadelphia, PA.
Director of Communications John Roach: As Director of Communications, John Roach oversees all media communications, website and social media, graphic design, photography, as well as the production and operation of two city operated cable television channels. Prior to joining the Mayor’s office in January, Roach served as campaign communications director for Mike Duggan and was a member of his transition leadership team. Roach previously served as Second Deputy Chief for the Detroit Police Department’s Office of Public Information. He also has served previously as Communications Director for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and the county’s department of public services. Roach received his Bachelor’s degree in Print Journalism from Wayne State University.
Chief Information Officer Beth Niblock: Ms. Niblock was the CIO for the Louisville metro government for 11 years. The Center for Digital Government named it one of the top digital cities in the U.S. in 2013 and also hailed its website as best in the nation in 2012. In addition, Louisville became a Code for America city last year, and built onto a new policy by Mayor Greg Fischer that by default all data would be open.
Detroit, MI, USA