Columbia ranked in top 10 on 2016 Digital Cities Survey

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COLUMBIA – Columbia is ranked number six on the 2016 Digital Cities Survey list in the 75,000 – 124,999 population category.

According to a news release, the Center for Digital Government’s annual survey recognizes cities using technology to improve citizen services, enhance transparency and encourage citizen engagement.

“The surveys are judged by considering ten key characteristics of a digital city: open, mobile, engaged, collaborative, secure, staffed/supported, connected, efficient, resilient and innovative,” the news release states.

The city has a variety of mobile and online services that members of the community can use including mobile apps and website features.

Two of those mobile apps are Double Map, which gives real-time information on COMO Connect buses, and Park Mobile, which allows people to use their phones to pay for parking.

“If you look around there are so many people with smart phones out, all the time. So having that payment option on the phone, it’s wide spread. If you look at most mobile apps, that require payment, they say they are faster, easier and more secure,” Shay Jasper, marketing specialist for COMO Connect said.

She also said the public transportation app is also more convenient and lessens anxiety concerning arrival and departure times.

“We have paper schedule map booklets and often we see those on the floor of the bus or we will see them on the ground by a bus stop or bus shelter. So, having that mobile app allows people to know the schedules, the routes and track the buses in live time without having to mess with paper,” she said.

The public works department also uses interactive maps, social media and an alert system to reach the community.

“There are three digital dashboards: the community dashboard, street viewer and then there’s city view. Those are the primary ways as far as mapping,” Barry Dalton, Public Information Officer for Public Works, said.

Dalton said some of the most interactive online information is on comosnow.com.

“You can see what priority streets are, which streets streets that we do first and why, which ones do we do next and there is an interactive map that you can go online and see it visually,” he said.

They also use an alert system during winter weather called Nixle.

“This is a digital alert system you can get through your phone. You can also check the website for alerts. We’ll say ‘It’s going to be two inches of snow. So please move your cars off the designated snow routes,” Dalton said.

Dalton also said social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are very helpful to public works staff not only when it snows, but year-round.

“Some people will actually post, ‘Here’s the picture of a pothole on our street.’ So we can visually see, yes that is something that we need to get out there and fix.”

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