When Doral, Fla., sought technology expertise to update its website, they didn’t envision it would become a brand new portal transforming the way citizens engage with their city. Yet that’s exactly what Aeon Nexus Corporation delivered to the city of more than 50,000 in Miami-Dade County—and it’s all built on Microsoft CityNext solutions, including the trusted Azure Government cloud platform, Adxstudio Portals and Dynamics CRM Online for Government.
Launched Jan. 18, the new CityofDoral.com site is a complete “soup-to-nuts platform” enabling residents to address every interaction with the city from one place, according to Brett Cocking, Aeon Nexus managing director of Sales. “It’s a holistic approach,” he said, noting the new site is “not just making one part of the city more efficient; it’s setting the standard for how a city should interact with citizens.”
The integrated web environment is what makes Doral’s new site unique, with the Adxstudio portal and Dynamics CRM automatically managing content and tracking 311 service requests or problem reporting. “Typically, that would require three or four applications,” Brett said.
Brett listed the number of citizen benefits resulting from the new CityofDoral.com, including:
- Log-in via Twitter, Facebook or other social media: Once you’re registered in My Doral, “you don’t have to remember another user name and password,” he said. “That’s especially important if you want to use a mobile device to submit a request.”
- Access to everything from one place: Whether you’re reporting a pothole, tracking an existing service request, checking the youth soccer schedule or seeing your tennis league ranking, the new site “manages the entire citizen relationship from one portal.”
- Any device from anywhere: With its responsive web design, My Doral automatically resizes depending on the size of your screen, whether it’s a computer, phone or tablet.
- Real-time interaction: “The focus is on constantly updating citizens on where their request is at,” Brett said. “The minute anyone takes that request, you’re going to get notified on your My Doral website. That real-time interaction with the citizen is pretty transformational.”
- Bottom-line results: Brett credits cost savings from the Microsoft cloud platform for making it possible to deliver an all-new portal instead of just tweaking Doral’s previous 200-page site. “It’s a whole new infrastructure for the cost and time to modify a website,” he said. “Adxstudio, Azure and CRM Online have provided such a wonderful foundation to deliver value to the city.”
Doral’s new portal also benefits from the collective effort and strong collaboration by the city’s IT department, the mayor and city council. “We did two workshops and the city council had their hands in the site’s design, approval and layout,” said Brett, noting, “I’ve never seen that.”
“Our prior website was Paleolithic, unable to adapt to how our residents were accessing information,” lamented Evan Owen, the city’s manager of Communications. “This new portal is 100 percent usable by phone, tablet or laptop!”
Gladys Gonzalez, Doral’s IT director, noted the city’s strategy requires a system-wide view and an integrated approach focusing on three core smart city functions: collect, communicate and crunch data to proactively engage with residents. “The end result will be that the City of Doral will be entirely cloud-based on the Microsoft Azure and CRM Online platforms,” she said, adding that it provides “a more interactive environment that will enable residents to access their specific city-related information on the device of their choosing along with a powerful business intelligence solution.”
Gonzalez said Doral’s approach also will foster a technology innovative community. Not surprising since Doral already has been recognized as:
- The best city in Florida for business startups (Businessweek)
- No. 2 on America’s Top 25 towns to live well for its cultural amenities, pro-business environment and highly educated workforce (Forbes.com)
- Third best place in the U.S. to retire (U.S. News & World Report).
“A city’s communications with its residents used to be just one way,” Owen enthused. “With the Microsoft CityNext products, we can engage in dialogue.” Microsoft CityNext is equally enthusiastic about our partnership with Aeon Nexus and the City of Doral. It’s exciting to see a complete package for citizen engagement and city staff communication built on our trusted and secure Microsoft cloud, especially since Doral’s portal provides a great model for other similar-sized cities.
Brett sums up the effort by giving Doral two of the highest accolades: “It’s probably the most connected city in the country.” And, referring to CityofDoral.com, “we think it’s one of the best service platforms in the world.” I couldn’t agree more!
Jeff Friedman, eGovernment Director, Microsoft
Jeff Friedman is Microsoft’s eGovernment Director in the State and Local Government Solutions Group. He was most recently the Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics for Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. Previously, Friedman was the Manager of Civic Innovation & Participation in the Mayor’s Office. He led various initiatives to make city government (and urban governance generally) more open, participatory, transparent, entrepreneurial, and innovative. Previously, Friedman was Chief of Staff to the Chief Technology Officer in the Division of Technology, and before that he was Deputy Director of Performance Management/Implementation Manager for Philly311 in the Managing Director’s Office. Prior to joining city government, Friedman consulted to state, local, and county governments across the nation at Public Financial Management, a national consultancy. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Temple University.