Beware of a media release that tells you how much they are doing for you but doesn’t tell you what it is costing.



By Pepper Parr.

BURLINGTON, ON.  April 17, 2013  Starting today, the city’s E-Government program will be launching the first of several new online services. For the first time, the city’s parks and recreation department’s Live & Play Guide is available online, allowing people to view program information and directly register for recreation programs of their choice at any time, day or night, from the comfort of their homes.

Wow! Is this as good as it sounds?

 “Posting the very popular Live & Play Guide on the city’s web page is an important step for the City of Burlington’s E-Government program,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “The people of Burlington have told us online service is an important option, and we are listening.”  That’s good – having a Mayor that listens is good.

Two pages of the electronic version of Live and Play, the city’s magazine on all its recreational programs. Convenient once you get the hang of the thing.  Was there a real savings?  We did save some trees.

The on-line version of Live and Play will allow people to search, bookmark and tag favorite pages.  The content is to be Mobile-friendly, which means you can book something from your smart phone while travelling on the GO train.  That’s very good.

You can set things up so that you get information via email and social media sites.  City hall has in the past been a little reluctant with social media.  There was the sense a year back that staff couldn’t be trusted to send out sensible messages.  That appears to be shifting.

In the media release the city says”  “People are now busier than ever. The introduction of the online guide and its features will give residents user-friendly recreation information, whether at home or on the go,” said Chris Glenn, director of parks and recreation. “The online guide will provide easy access for residents to register for a variety of programs.” 

What you used to get in your mailbox is now on-line.  Really slick, fun to use but allow yourself some time to get the hang of the thing.

The city’s E-Government strategy will be delivered through 10 projects put in place over three years. Over the next couple of months, the city will launch epost in conjunction with Canada Post for property tax billing and tee time bookings for Tyandaga Golf Course.

Brent Stanbury, E-Government program manager,  who built the first web site for the city before he went to work for the federal government, came back to Burlington to take us from the entry-level web site to something much more sophisticated and, it might be added, a lot harder to create.

There wasn’t enough space within the IT department at city hall to house the team.

Now – about the site.  It is slick but it is going to take some getting used to.  There are all kinds of tabs on the sides and it will take you some time to get used to it.  When you move from page to page there is a sound effect that is all but identical to flipping the pages of a magazine.

Is it too complex?  Many will have problems with it – but it appears to be all there – you just have to get used to getting around the thing.  Best approach: put your ten year old in front of it and let them tell you how it works.

Navigational Tool – takes a bit to get used to them but they work very well.

It does work.  There is an event on the Seniors’ Centre page that kind of interested me: a day trip to Toronto to take a Tall Ship Cruise.  I clicked on the spot I thought I should have clicked on and that brought me to a page that had all the information – and told me that I had to come back June 1, to register.  I didn’t figure out how to get the program to remind me to come back June 1 – just put that into my Outlook calendar and that will remind me.

It looks as if the thing is going to work well.

Did notice though that the publication doesn’t appear to be on the city’s web site and the media release didn’t tell you where to go to get to it.  There was a link in the media release – but few people get that document.

So – if you want to get to the Live and Play CLICK HERE.

Make a point of bookmarking that page when it comes up on your screen – you will want to go back to it.

That website address suggest Live and Play, in its electronic edition, is on some other website and that the city is paying a fee to keep the thing there. Is that fee less than the cost of printing the magazine and having it distributed?  The media release makes no mention of any cost – but there are no free lunches.

At first blush this looks like a superb effort – now some time and effort has to be made to help people learn how to use it – or am I just showing my age?   Hope not.

We will be back to tell you more about this one.

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