Strategic Plans and Reports
1996 Seattle.Gov Annual Report
In mid-1996, staff from PAN, OMP and City Council prepared the PANPlan, A Strategic Vision for the City of Seattle Public Access Network. That plan identified the strategic issues and projects for PAN over the next two years. This document is a follow-up to that plan, providing summary information on the accomplishments and status of PAN in 1996. The attached work plan shows the projects that we hope to implement in 1997.
PAN includes both the City’s site on the Internet’s World Wide Web (WWW), and a Bulleting Board System (BBS) that does not require an Internet connection. Most of the development and use of PAN in 1996 involve the Web site, and so is the focus of this report. Summary information on use of the BBS is also included.
Web Site Performance
The number of people using the PAN World Wide Web site grew dramatically over the course of the year. We believe this growth is due to a number of factors, including the growth in the number of people with Internet access and improvements to the quality and quantity of information on PAN. In the middle of 1996, PAN established the goal of having 50,000 users and 1 million "hits" a month within two and a half years. These goals were almost achieved by the end of 1996.
The number of people using the PAN website increased approximately 400% during 1996. In January, 1996, just over 12,000 computers per month were accessing the PAN website. By November, this number exceeded 51,000, dropping in December to about 44,000. The growth in users is shown on the graph below.
"Hits" is the standard industry measure for traffic on the Internet, and measures the number of times that someone "clicks" on a page or graphic. The number of hits has increased over ten times since the end of 1995. This is reflective of both the vast increase in the number of documents available on PAN, and the inclusion of more graphics and maps.
CONTENT ON PAN
PAN’s web site has grown to over 2,500 individual documents not including numerous pictures, diagrams, and at least six databases. With that comes the enormous task of managing this vast collection of information; we will be looking into more automated ways of doing ths in 1997.
PAN is able to track the number of "hits" on individual pages per month. Below is a list of the top twenty pages in August and December, 1996.
Top 20 documents/functions (excluding PANs main pages)
Note that the extremely high use for the Traffic function in December is related to the snow storm. Traffic, weather, City job openings, the virtual tour, calendar of events, Quick Facts and Trade Development Alliance Information are consistently among the most heavily used functions on PAN.
PAN has a feature that enables anyone to check the number of hits received on a page during the previous month. A sample report for Council President Drago’s pages in included in the appendix.
WHO USES PAN?
Software to assist us determining who is using PAN and where they come from is only beginning to mature, so our information is limited. One of the largest group of PAN users are City employees, followed closely by people from large local organizations including the University of Washington, Boeing and Microsoft.
PAN operates a Bulletin Board System (BBS) in addition to the Web site. The BBS is accessed with a modem and does not require an Internet connection. When PAN started, the BBS was a major component of the system, designed to make sure that electronic information was accessible to as many people as possible. However, since Internet access has grown dramatically, use of the BBS has steadily declined. The sample statistics below demonstrate this. In fact, as shown on the chart below, BBS accounts peaked in May of 1995, and have declined fairly steadily since then.
|December 96||August 96||January 96|
|Total registered accounts||1,184||1,419||1,996|
|New accounts registered||405||468||788|
Awards and Recognition
PAN received a top 5% designation from Point Communications and was awarded Magellan’s highest rating of four stars. PAN was also selected as one of six finalists for a National Information Infrastructure (NII) Award for Public Access, and was a semi-finalist in the Government Category.
One of the major projects completed in 1996 was the redesign and reorganization of information on the PAN Web site. Through consultations with internet users, local experts, and City staff, PAN restructured the way information is presented to target three major user groups: citizens, businesses and visitiors. New graphics simplify the look and feel of the system, making it easier for users to find the information they are seeking. Below is a screen picture of the new PAN homepage.
Basic City Information
PAN’s long term goal is to have 80-90% of the written information produced by the City available electronically. Our short term goal is to provide basic information from every City department needed and requested by Seattle citizens.
During 1996, we made major strides towards achieving our short term goal, but achieving the long term goal will take several more years. Currently, almost all City departments provide some information on PAN, although the quality and frequency it is updated varies considerably.
A few departments deserve recognition for recent work adding sites and/or upgrading their information on PAN. These include the City Auditor, which now publishes all of its reports on PAN, and the Department of Neighborhoods, which has significantly upgraded its site in the last few months.
Among departments that are using PAN, there remains a big difference both in capacity and awareness of how to use the Internet to share information with citizens. For example, Seattle’s Fire Department site is one of the most comprehensive in the County, including incident reports that are electronically updated daily. Most Executive Departments, however, rely on PAN staff to convert and post documents for them. This is an issue of resources, capacity and organizational culture. Using PAN needs to become a normal part of doing business, which it is not yet in most departments.
Targeted departments for improved basic information in 1997 should be the Police Department and Seattle Center. The Police Department took its first step using PAN by publishing its strategic plan and a form for citizen comments. Seattle Center provides information about events, but does not use the Internet as a major marketing tool. Several other departments need to update their information. We have highlighted DHHS in this category; a complete revision and update of their pages is in their work program for 1997.
PAN staff will continue to work with all departments, providing tools and training to staff. Tools to convert documents to HTML (Hypertext Markup Language – the language of the World Wide Web) are now widely available and simple to use. PAN provides a free HTML editor to anyone who requests it.
A major accomplishment for 1996 was the creating an Internet directory of City employee phone numbers and e-mail addresses. This project involved not only making the existing City Phone directory accessible through PAN, but programming to create the only City employee e-mail directory. This directory is used an average of almost one thousand times per month.
Databases provide a simple way for citizens to sort through large amounts of information. (The City Directory is a database).
With the help of outside organizations, several other databases were added to PAN in 1996, including: Searching for Training and Employment Programs (S.T.E.P.), produced by the Seattle Worker Center; and the M.O.S.T. Initiative, a database of Activities for Children and Youth. PAN also converted the Business License Database so it is accessible from the Web site.
Adding databases will be one of the major work items for 1997. One project identified in the strategic plan is the Crisis Clinic Database, used by hundreds of social services agencies for client referrals. This database will be installed on PAN in the spring of 1997.
Another significant effort is creating a comprehensive calendar of City department meetings and events. PAN staff will set up the infrastructure, but its success will be dependent on departments entering information and keeping it up to date.
Survey and Feedback Forms
PAN staff set up the capacity for departments to get input via survey and feedback forms. Only a few departments used this feature in 1996, but we expect to expand it significantly in 1997. The Fire department is using it for fire permit change of address requests and also for fire permit and for ordering a free smoke detector, etc. A few departments have used the feedback form for surveys such as DCLU and OMP.
Public Access Sites
PAN continues to establish public access sites in community and neighborhood service cetners. During 1996, we added sites at the West Seattle Community Service Center, Rainier Community Center (in conjunction with Project Compute), and the Central Area Motivation Program.
In 1997, we are working with the Speakeasy Foundation to add several additional community center sites: Langston Hughes, Delridge, Rainier Beach and Miller. We also hope to add 3-4 additional Neighborhood Service Centers.
In 1996, PAN hosted the Zoo and Convention Bureau's site's on our server but with the ability for them to use their own address (www.zoo.org).
PAN staff also ran the City’s Intraweb server, known as the InWeb. This task has been taking an increasing amount of time; PAN has requested additional resources for the InWeb in 1997.