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Bettendorf's new website makes it easier to interact with city services
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Bettendorf's new website makes it easier to interact with city services

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The City of Bettendorf upgraded its website for the first time in at least a decade. 

The new digs, launched this week, have been in production for the last nine or so months since the contract was approved with a goal to make the city's website more interactive and easier to navigate, said Economic Development Director Jeff Reiter, who managed the project.

"Our old site was not mobile friendly, there were some ADA compliance issues, things like that," Reiter said. "A lot of the functionality of 21st century websites did not exist with our former website. So with the new site, we have a lot more interactive capability with our constituent base."

Now, people can submit applications, register for classes and services, and sign up for text alerts directly through the website. The website also updated to include accessible options, like making text larger or changing the color contrast to be more readable. 

The city contracted Revize, a Michigan-based company that constructs public sector websites. The city chose REVISE out of 13 bidders, approving the contract in April, and paid the company $38,700 with an ongoing annual commitment of $5,900 each year after for maintenance and upkeep. 

Through the old website, people and businesses had to apply for things like construction permits, business licenses, or register for public programs and recreation services by downloading a PDF form and dropping it off or mailing or faxing it. Now, a form can be submitted directly through the website, Reiter said. 

Users can also look up their address and be returned information about where they live: their alderman, ward, voting precinct, state representative, school district, trash pick-up day, contact information for elected officials, and water, energy, and internet services. 

The new design offers more accessibility options for site users, bringing it in line with ADA standards. Clicking on a stick figure in a blue circle to the left side of the home page brings up an accessibility menu. Users can change the contrast and colors of the site to be easier to read, enlarge the text, change spacing, highlight links, and pause animations. Images include a description that would be included when someone used a screen reader.

The site can also be translated into various languages. 

A search bar on the home page can help navigate the site, but Reiter said there may be some broken links for the next week or two because information and pages from the old site are migrating to the new one, and the search results will update with the new web pages once the move is complete. 

For the future, Reiter said the city is working on a Bettendorf-specific geographic information system (GIS). This would allow users to look up public parks, updates on city construction projects, and where private construction and permits are planned that have been approved by the city. 

The Scott County Assessor already services a GIS site with public property records. Reiter said this would build off of that system. 

Reiter said the city and the GIS-specific contractor it was working with was modeling the system off of a tool available in Westerville, Ohio. In one part of that tool, people can see on a map what phase city construction projects are in, like street widening projects, facility construction, and street closures in real time with highlighted lines that can be clicked on for more information.

If all goes according to plan, Reiter said city staff are hopeful the GIS system will be launched later this spring.

"Our goal is to show people as much as we can about what's happening in the city," Reiter said. "So they have a real time one stop shop type of tool that they can go to their phone or their website and get that access."

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Bettendorf, East Moline, and Silvis Reporter

Sarah is the Bettendorf, East Moline, and Silvis reporter for the Quad City Times covering local government and news in the those areas. She graduated from the University of Iowa this spring and was the editor of the student-run newspaper The Daily Iowan.

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