U Street upgrade project site lacks Web two point oh-ness

July 2, 2009 at 5:05 pm Leave a comment

ustreetimage

File this one in the annals of Web2., uh, sort of?

It appears as though a U Street upgrade project is underway in the District, and the D.C. DOT has created a nifty little Web site to involve the public in the process. Well, perhaps I should put the word “involve” in quotation marks.

Unfortunately, the site only includes broad descriptions of the project – currently in the “design” phase.

We are informed of the existence of a steering committee, but none of the committee member names or contact information is listed.

We are informed that we are welcome to attend a public meeting, but there’s no calendar of upcoming meeting locations, dates or times.

There’s a photo gallery, but no labels for viewers to decipher what they’re looking at – or an explanation as to why those photos are relevant.

There’s language assuring visitors that neighborhood residents will receive flyers, “email blasts” and other communication on the project, but no easy way for someone to get on an email list to make sure he or she will actually receive this information.

Maybe I’m being picky, but in my opinion, the point of creating a Web site for a neighborhood renovation project should be to involve the public, give an update on costs, plans and renovations, and give the public many options to sign up for alerts, come to meetings and participate in a conversation with project leaders. (And this isn’t just for neighborhood projects. Revamping the transparency and quality of government Web sites was a hot topic at the Personal Democracy Forum in NYC this past weekend.)

All this being said, I have to give the District credit for at least trying to bring some transparency to neighborhood upgrades and streetscaping. But it’s got a long way to go before these projects truly become transparent, collaborative and full of “Web two point oh-ness.”

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Entry filed under: Advocacy. Tags: , , , , , .

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