Scarsdale Village Working to Improve Communications
- Shout it Out
- Published on Wednesday, 01 March 2017 08:25
- Joanne Wallenstein
As many readers may know, Scarsdale Village government recently launched a new, more user-friendly version of its website, scarsdale.com, which has proven to be an easier, more functional means of conducting business online.
The revamped site is also the first step in Scarsdale's initiative to improve communications and build a better dialogue with the public. Championing this effort is the Ad Hoc Committee on Communications, led by Trustee Jane Veron, which is charged with identifying opportunities to enhance village interaction with residents. Members were selected for their experience and expertise in pertinent subjects such as public relations, information technology and neighborhood outreach, and for their collective diversity. They include Justin Arest, Lee Fischman, Dara Gruenberg, Laura Halligan, Justin Hamill, ML Perlman, Barry Meiselman, Scott Rompala, Andrew Sereysky, Carol Silverman, and liaisons, Village Trustee Deborah Pekarek and Deputy Village Manager, Robert Cole.
Formed in October 2016, the committee quickly completed its first mandate – reviewing, refining and introducing the revised website. The previous site, developed years ago, lacked functionality and wasn't responsive to the myriad of mobile devices used today. According to Cole, "The site's organization, appearance, significantly improved functionality, new engagement tools, and richer, more advanced email/SMS functions all are major improvements over the old version."
The updated design allows residents to not only locate and access information more easily, but permits them to customize their website experience by choosing to receive specific information through text or email. It also encourages users to submit and track service requests online, and features a dramatically improved search function.
Residents Asked to Subscribe for Village Emails
Recreation Users: You Must Take Action to continue receiving notices and flyers
Due to the launch of the new scarsdale.com, Scarsdale Village will discard old email notification lists that have been in use over the past few years. Unfortunately, technical limitations preclude migrating subscribers to the new site's notification system. As a result, all residents who currently are receiving village email alerts must re-subscribe via the new website to continue this service. This includes all official government notices and, of particular interest, news from the Scarsdale Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department. To avoid disruption in communications, the public is asked to re-subscribe by March 10, 2017.
To introduce the site's new features and assist users in navigation, the communications committee, Scarsdale Cable Commission and SPTV developed an online tutorial video, Welcome to Our Website. "The video epitomizes the collaborative spirit and determination that propels the committee's efforts. In no time, the group pulled together and produced a tutorial targeted to novice website users," Veron said.
In the first months after launch, the new scarsdale.com has generated a good amount of compliments and user feedback. "We'd like to receive additional input from the community to help us make the website a truly useful resource," says Cole. "Both village staff and the communications committee review all comments and implement immediate changes where possible."
By serving as a primary focus group for evaluating the site's features and organization, the committee will help iron out the kinks that always arise when introducing new technology. It also will continue its work to introduce scarsdale.com to the community and evaluate feedback.
Residents are invited to visit the site, and provide suggestions and questions to email@example.com. Most important, all are encouraged to sign-up to receive personalized alerts and information from village government.
In addition to monitoring the website rollout, the committee has moved on to the next phase of its work – developing a formal plan to improve current communications practices and increase public awareness. This includes assessing the types of information residents want and need, when and how it should be delivered, and related costs. As part of the process, the group is working closely with village staff and relying on input from the public.
Reports Veron, "Our combined efforts on the website redesign, in particular, present an important opportunity to engage our residents as we chart the future course of communications within Scarsdale. We are delighted to have resident volunteers with extraordinary talent and experience collaborating with the board of trustees and village staff."