Electronic Government For Smaller Communities

What? What is "electronic government?" Electronic government, or e-government, creates a new kind of relationship between a government entity and its constituents through the use of technology. Municipalities use e-government to provide services and information to the public by using available electronic means, such as the Web, e-mail and perhaps even cellular telephones and PDAs (personal data assistants.) Instead of traveling to the town hall to transact business or gain information, people can do so from anywhere with Internet access - from home, from work, or from an Internet café on the other side of the world.

Why? Why invest in e-government? Perhaps the most compelling reason is that people are quickly coming to expect it - the Internet has fundamentally changed the way many people run their lives. With the advent of home computers and affordable Internet access, business transactions are no longer limited to the office. Information can be gathered twenty-four hours a day; goods can be purchased twenty-four hours a day. For better or worse, most people expect to interact with businesses, friends and family, and even the government when it's most convenient for them. By using e-government, municipalities can better offer citizens what they need, when they need it. This benefits everyone in the end, as it's often more efficient and cost-effective for a community to provide services electronically.

How? How does a small town start an e-government project? Most communities start with a web site. Towns lacking an IT department often look to local web design or Internet consulting companies for assistance in planning, designing and running a web site. Looking at other municipalities' web sites is a good place to start.