City of Austin Revolution

I was lucky enough and honored to get invited to a special City of Austin meeting about the city’s Web Site.  You see we are having some issues with it.  In fact this was not your average City committee meeting with the council facing the usual number of crackpots, deadlocking over issues and it airing on Channel 6. What made me happy as well as the number of non profit folks in the room. Who better to ask about managing tech on a budget?

This was a SWAT team style surgical strike at where the Web Site needs to go in the next year. As one of the city employees said in the meeting “This is not a re-design. This is a re-imagining of what a city should give it’s citizens”.

I will take it a step further and say it’s a Revolution. It’s time to take one of the leading tech and art cities in the nation and make her shine. Here is a quick summary of my favorite ideas from the meeting.

1) Ask the Youth. Get the AISD involved. Who will be using the City’s Web Site 5 years from now? They will be. Let’s get their thoughts.

2) Let’s build first and ask questions soon. Let’s go get a sandbox mockup of what people want. Whether it’s in Drupal or Powerpoint or in a .PSD file. That way when the RFP (request for project) goes out to Web Dev firms we can tell them “Build This” or “Make this come alive”.

3) Let’s crowd source this monster. Just like the videos on Let’s give the people a voice. Go check out what one of my friend’s is doing with OpenAustin. OpenAustin is a community-based effort to crowd source the requirements and development for the new City of Austin web site using local software developers, marketing experts, and graphic designers that have been displaced from their jobs due to the current economic downturn. In my opinon this will produce a superior Web site for the citizens of Austin at a fraction of the cost of the city’s lowest bid.

What do you think?