What a Digital City Hall Could Be

Anyone with a smartphone knows that even the coolest-looking app will go unused if it fails to meet the user's needs. The same is true for a newly launched or redesigned government website: Attractiveness and basic functionality -- new fonts, formatting and navigation tools -- are necessary but will fail to accomplish their purpose if they are not supported by addressing the underlying issues that can make accessing government services so cumbersome.

A focus on the needs of users that includes the reengineering of underlying systems has the potential to make a digital city hall more responsive while also better addressing the needs of underserved populations. Done well, such an approach would constitute a new way of operating altogether, not only on the internet but in brick-and-mortar city halls as well.

Indianapolis has embarked on such an undertaking in reengineering indy.gov, the city/county web portal that dates back to my time as mayor in the 1990s. In building the new my.indy.gov, Indianapolis is capitalizing on new possibilities that two decades of immense technological advances have provided.