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No bricks, mortar for this county site

Cliff Thompson

How’d you like to be able to pay your county taxes, watch the county commissioners verbally duke it out at meetings or check on the arrivals of a flight at the Eagle County Airport from your home or office computer?

You can do two of the three already with Eagle County’s new “E-government” Web site that was launched last week. By summer, you’ll be able to pay taxes on-line, too. The new site blends a boatload of statistics found in county records with the immediacy of electronic media into a deep site stuffed with information and real-time developments.

And instead of driving to Eagle or to any of the 50 buildings the county has around the valley to get what you need, documents and other info should be as close as your office or home computer. The Web site will even notify you by e-mail of coming events, if that’s what you’d like.

“A lot of people do (their county) business when our office is not open,” said Jack Ingstad, county administrator. “We’re just trying to answer their questions on weekends and evenings when we’re not here. We want to make it more convenient.”

Driving the update is a new content management system that allows each department to regularly update the information on the site. The software cost $20,000 and Ingstad estimates it cost another $40,000 to launch the site. When the second part of the site is fired up this summer it will enable financial transactions to be conducted on line.

“We have 60 knowledge experts contributing information to the site as opposed to two,” said John DeNardo, director of innovation and technology for Eagle County. “It’s got a lot of information. Far more than what two guys could put up.”

So how could this make it easier for you, the user? Suppose you lose a pet. You could immediately report it via e-mail to the county’s animal control division.

Want to travel to Denver but are unsure of the weather? There are live road cameras providing real-time information.

If you were interested in purchasing some property, you could research development plans for nearby property to see if they fit with your idea of what a neighborhood should be.

You can research records from the County Clerk and Recorder’s office. You can also use the county’s geographical information system – a compendium of aerial photos and maps that are linked to zoning and other databases – to research fire danger or to look at development plans or development plans.

From the other end of the on-line connection, county officials will be able to use the site to quickly spread information. If there’s a natural disaster – a flood or fire, for instance – the county could use it to notify residents. If a user has difficulty locating information by using keywords while navigating through the site, administrators will be alerted so it will be easier to find the next time that information is sought.

The new site will also provide the county with a marketing tool, Ingstad said. It will contain links to the ski resort sites and also to the sites of the organizations that produce the dozens of seasonal events such as the Bravo! music festivals, events at the Vilar Center or professional cycling events. It also has an extensive calendar, too.

There’s no advertising on the site but the links do direct users to other sites that do contain advertisements, Ingstad said.

Ingstad is unabashed in his praise of the new site that took 16 months to develop.

“The redesign has been a long time coming, but I believe once it is completed it will be one of the best, if not the best county government Website in the country,” he said.

You’ll need to download Flash 7 software which will enable you to view the animation, DeNardo said. The new site will also automatically direct you to Macromedia which makes Flash 7.

Cliff Thompson can be reached via e-mail at: cthompson@vaildaily.com or by calling 949-0555 ext. 450.

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http://www.eagle-county.com

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