Phoenix rises to systems challenge

Phoenix rises to systems challenge

Like the ancient phoenix, the nation's sixth-largest city sprang from the ashes'in this case, the ruins of an American Indian city that flourished in the desert from the eighth through the 14th centuries. The modern city of Phoenix is also thriving, having won several prizes in the past few years for excellence in managing information technology.

The city's Web site, called Phoenix at Your Fingertips, was a finalist for one of this year's Global Bangemann Challenge awards. The international prizes, named for Martin Bangemann, a European Union commissioner, are presented by the king of Sweden to those in charge of selected IT projects that benefit people and communities. The site, at www.ci.phoenix.az.us, also won the National League of Cities 1998 Innovation Award in the category of Harnessing Information Technology for Your City.

Phoenix at Your Fingertips supplies users with information and forms for city jobs, City Council meeting agendas, requests for proposals, profiles of city officials, phone directories, environmental concerns, and details on transportation and parks.

Phoenix won a $225,000 grant in 1995 from the U.S. Commerce Department to provide online access to every citizen, regardless of economic status, age or disability, by setting up public access PCs within three miles of every neighborhood in the city.

Fifty-eight low-end Pentium PCs are installed in 37 Phoenix libraries and community centers, said Greg Binder, project manager for Phoenix at Your Fingertips. The city is getting ready to replace the 3-year-old PCs with new 333-MHz Pentium IIs, Binder said.

Phoenix at Your Fingertips is based on a policy of striving 'to not divide access into haves and have-nots,' Binder said. 'We put a lot of effort into community outreach.'

Visits to the site have been growing by 6 percent each month, Binder said. Recent statistics show that the site received more than 700,000 visits per month.

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