Improving the City of San Diego’s web functions for businesses and consumers alike was the focus of the Economic Development & Strategies Committee meeting chaired by First District Councilwoman Sherri Lightner.
She said she has long heard complaints from the business community on how confusing and laborious it can be to find and fill out all the needed forms.
Lightner said it is vital for the City to continuously assess its technology strategy to better streamline services and “make doing business with the city faster, easier and more convenient.”
Now anyone with a smartphone or a computer can order almost anything with one click, but many of the city’s business forms are only available in PDF format and either need to be mailed, faxed or delivered in person to city offices.
Lightner wants to create a strategy in which all of the city’s forms, permit applications, license and fee payments are automated on an interactive website.
“We need to bring city services and information directly to the people. In this day and age, there is no reason anyone should have to make a special trip to City Hall just to fill out some paperwork,” Lightner said.
Paul Webster, vice president of public policy for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, agreed with Lightner saying that the region is known for being technologically sophisticated and the city’s website should reflect that fact.
“The City’s current website is costing local businesses time and money, and preventing them from doing what they need to do to grow and create jobs,” Webster said.The Chamber provided a presentation to the committee on best website practices from other municipalities such as New York while city departments such as Economic Growth Services, Economic Development and Office of the Treasurer detailed plans for upgrading their own web functions.
The Mayor’s Office also provided an overview of its AT&T Apps Challenge, an innovative program that is asking local developers to come up with new ways to enhance city services through mobile applications.
Lightner said next up is finding funding and cost-effective ways to deliver on a comprehensive web strategy, which, much like the AT&T Apps Challenge, could include partnerships with local technology companies and universities.
Sherri Lightner is the Councilmember for Council District One of the City of San Diego, which includes the communities of Black Mountain Ranch, Carmel Valley, Del Mar Mesa, La Jolla, Pacific Highlands Ranch, Rancho Peñasquitos, Torrey Hills, Torrey Highlands, Torrey Pines and University City.
She took office Dec. 8, 2008.