Seattle's single sign-on system grants easy access to city services

MySeattle.gov allow users to customize their own home pages

Seattle has more than 50 online registration pages available through city departments, which make city services available but could also make accessing those services a cumbersome experience. Residents now have a better way, with the recently launched MySeattle.gov.

The site uses a single sign-on system that lets residents log on once to access city services and then gives them the ability to customize their pages, according to the city’s announcement of the launch. Users can create their own personalized home pages, modeled after iGoogle, by adding widgets related to their personal interests – crime stats for a neighborhood, news feeds, community events and Seattle Channel videos, for example.

Bruce Blood, citywide Web manager for the Seattle Department of Information Technology, anticipates that the site will be mostly used by individuals, such as vendors, who spend a fair amount of time on the city’s site today. Residents who rarely visit Seattle.gov might not take advantage of the customization feature, he said, according to Government Technology.

Although they were announced as a new feature of MySeattle.gov, single sign-on capabilities with Seattle.gov began in 2009 and are a work in progress, Government Technology reported. Today residents can electronically submit and track permits to the Department of Planning and Development and view police reports. Seattle Department of Transportation employees can use it to access a project management tool for interacting with vendors.

Although the city plans to add utility billing, customer service requests for potholes or graffiti, and support for mobile devices soon, the timeline for all processes to be accessible via single-on is unknown. Agencies are averse to changing their processes, and persuading them to do so can be difficult, Blood said: “It takes a while to sell it.”

Seattle also has other online tools in the works: Seattle Speaks, an open, online forum for discussion between constituents and city officials, and Ask.Seattle.Gov, a similar site for residents to interact with government decision-makers.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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