It wasn’t until we launched Boston.gov that we realized just how important public notices were to City businesses and residents. What are “public notices”? Departments and agencies across the City are required by law to post notices for public hearings and meetings at least 48 hours before the hearing or meeting takes place.
The City had been placing them online in the City calendar, which was filled with many competing events and not mobile responsive. But, the legal location of these notices was a corkboard on the first floor of City Hall.
Over the course of five weeks, the Digital Team worked with the City Law Department, City Clerk staff, and Massachusetts Attorney General’s office to design, build, test, and launch a section of Boston.gov dedicated to public notices. Anyone with an Internet connection can quickly and easily access information about public hearings and meetings from any device using an ADA compliant and mobile responsive website.
Unlike the old website, where public notice information was cluttered in with all of the events going on in the City, our public notice page only surfaces public notice information. Website visitors automatically view the upcoming and most recent meetings or hearings, but can quickly search and filter these notices to get to relevant information more quickly.
But, not everyone has a smartphone. In fact, many people are in the habit of finding public notice information on the first floor of City Hall. To serve this audience, we connected our public notice website content to a large digital screen that now hangs in the same physical location where the corkboard once hung. This screen gets real-time updates from the City’s website, giving the public the latest information as soon as it’s available. Also, public notice information only needs to get updated in one place. To add even more transparency to this very public process, we’ve also open sourced the project.
Finally, we trained the City Clerk’s staff on how to edit the City’s website. Public information gets out as soon as it’s published on our website, decreasing their administrative work.