Camas unveils new city website

Live-stream video of City Council meetings will soon be added

For the first time in more than 10 years, the City of Camas has launched a new website that will offer a variety of unique services and tools.

Today the city rolls out the major overhaul that was initiated by Mayor Scott Higgins, who has an interest in technology and saw a need to improve the city’s online communications with citizens.

City staff, led by Information Systems Director Sherry Coulter, implemented all of the website changes and upgrades.

“[Coulter] was very driven and made it happen,” Higgins said of the project that began to take shape in May and June. “We have enough talent in house that we could do this internally. That saved us a lot of money.”

The site includes a “Mayor Higgins,” which will be updated with new posts regularly. Topics will range from the Friday night Camas High School football game to information about weather conditions.

“I think it will be a good way to communicate information to the community,” Higgins said, adding that the blog will offer one-way communication. Other avenues for citizens to contact City Council and city staff with questions and comments are also available on the site, including e-mail.

In addition to information about the city’s background and demographics, on the website citizens can sign up to pay their water bills, and also access applications for seats boards and commissions and license and permit forms.

Visitors will also find links to the library’s Facebook, blog and Twitter pages, and Parks and Recreation’s Facebook fan page providing the community with current highlights about what’s happening in Camas, and the opportunity to register for online newsletters. There is also a “Connect With Us” registration page where citizens can have access to RSS feeds and social media connections.

There is a feature that lists all city parks, site amenities, addresses and maps, a “How Do I” menu to guide visitors to commonly requested information or services, and new site categories such as “New Resident Resources” and “New Business Resources” along with other community pages providing resources throughout the city.

Higgins said by the third quarter of this year, through the website the public will also be able to view live stream video of City Council meetings as well as play recordings of them on-demand. It will also provide access to agendas and corresponding documents.

In the 2012 budget, approximately $45,000 funded through Real Estate Excise Taxes has been set aside to purchase software and video equipment. The software will come from Granicus, a San Francisco-based company helps governments implement live-streaming media and paperless communication systems to government entities,

“It’s a very modern use and takes advantage of all of the technology we have,” Higgins said.

He said the efforts will reduce the amount of time an administrative assistant is currently spending on agenda and meeting preparation, attending meetings, note taking, and transcribing the minutes.

“It’s a cumbersome process that technology will be able to help with and free up those resources,” he said.

Higgins said the site is a work in progress that will continue to grow and change.

“The City’s site was designed entirely by City staff who will continue to develop and present new web features while maintaining the site with ongoing updates and additions to content,” Higgins said. “We consider the internet a vital connection to citizens and the community.”

The website can be found at www.ci.camas.wa.us.

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