The Internet’s changed a lot since Hanover County’s website was first launched in 1996.
The advent of faster connection speeds and the demise, for the most part, of dial-up modem technology has created an online environment that tends to be more interactive and informative than its cyber ancestors. The Internet is also no longer confined to desktop computers; it’s in the palm of our hands when we need it through wireless-enabled mobile phone and tablet technology.
But while the digital world was changing, much of Hanover’s online presence stayed the same.
With that in mind, county officials are working to revamp Hanover’s official website, a much-needed move that we definitely support.
We would, however, remind the county that a government website needs to do more than look good.
The Web makes it easier for citizens to connect with their government and stay informed. While the county does a good job at posting meeting notices and the like, we encourage them to go one step further.
New technology makes live-streaming of county meetings possible. Streaming meetings would enable citizens to see their government in action at their own convenience and would hopefully lead to a better-informed public. This was one of outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell’s goals at the state level, one never actually realized but a worthwhile idea that shouldn’t be tucked away in a dusty corner.
If video logistics are too tricky, the county could at least upload audio recordings of government meetings alongside their minutes.
In addition to showcasing government in action, Hanover has an opportunity to better hear from its citizens. An online forum would be a great way to weigh public sentiment and would likely draw greater participation than the podium during a public hearing.
Hanover County has before it a golden opportunity to bolster transparency and better connect with local citizens and taxpayers. Hopefully they will make the most of it.