A topic I have begun to explore is the best e-government software to support public participation in urban planning. I’ve previously written about LimeHouse‘s tool, which amounts to a web-based document management system that supports the equivalent of blog comments on document sections.
Adobe has been advertising their LiveCycle suite of tools heavily on the D.C. Metro and buses. It features interactive, online forms that interface with existing government databases and processes. Not a bad thing, but this is the type of one-to-one e-government I described in my blog post about urban planning and e-government. Online forms are necessary, but have limited applicability for planning exercises.
Today I noticed a recent announcement from Microsoft regarding their
“Citizen Service Platform (CSP), which will make it easier for governments to interact with citizens, streamline processes and, as a result, save time and taxpayer dollars. Together with its partners, Microsoft’s CSP offerings will help governments of all sizes more responsively deliver services to citizens via the Internet.”
While the list of features is promising, I’d like to see exactly how smoothly the entire package comes together. They claim to have some GIS support, something potentially useful to planners.
Finally, in my new copy of The Next American City (you should be subscribing if you’re not) I saw an ad for a “Survey of Open Source Software Use by Municipal Government,” that seeks to “discover if small to medium cities (population less than 500,000) can conduct business and provide services using only open source software as an alternative to commercial software. The results of this research may provide insight that can help cities reduce the annual cost of information technology and software through the use of open source software.”
Do you have experience with any of these or other e-government software packages? What are the best software tools available to local planners?