NHLOGIN.org: Portal to the World of eGovernment Your Portal to the World of eGovernment

By John Barker and Tony Schaffer

Unless you work under a rock, you know that a wave of technological innovation is sweeping through local governments, changing the services we deliver and how we deliver them. Call it “eGovernment" or call it “working smarter," it’s not enough to merely welcome the change. You need to know what’s possible, what works, what doesn’t and who can help you make the difference.

That is why the New Hampshire Local Government Information Network (NHLoGIN) has introduced a new Web portal to provide information and promote collaboration to the New Hampshire local government community. NHLoGIN members asked for a resource that enhanced and extended the education and collaboration already offered by our meetings and to subscribers of our popular e-mail listserv. In response, our Executive Board and newly-formed Municipal Information Technology Committee developed the new portal at www.nhlogin.org.

Inside the Portal
A portal is more than just a Web site. It’s a dynamic set of valuable tools and resources, and a place to explore opportunities and best practices with your peers, anytime and from anywhere. We believe that through this portal, we can raise the bar on the level of information and collaboration available to all local governments in New Hampshire with features such as: an automated online forum for 24/7, just-in-time communications; right-sized information on news and events via an online calendar; document sharing through our invaluable online document library; Web-based tools such as online surveys and members-only contacts; and controlled access to participating vendors.

The portal is currently available to both NHLoGIN members and non-members, although some of the advanced features and resources are limited to paid NHLoGIN members (the portal also provides information on joining NHLoGIN). The portal is focused on the core mission of NHLoGIN: collaboration, communication and education among local governments in New Hampshire.

Local government professionals know that information is often the single most critical need, and education is the way to close that gap. The portal provides that education through offering:

  • Information on government technology news and initiatives in New Hampshire and elsewhere, including up-to-date feeds from such organizations as Government IT News.
  • A place to easily find and access information and best practices on New Hampshire eGovernment.
  • A way to find qualified eGovernment vendors and consultants that can help educate members while respecting their privacy and supporting the mission of NHLoGIN.

You know information is important, but what information is relevant to your problem? Find out by communicating and collaborating with others who can help filter the data down to something that is useful for you. The portal is all about communication. The ability to share advice, recommendations and best practices is what distinguishes a portal from a simple Web site. The new portal enables you to subscribe to forums and information feeds; view and subscribe to topic-targeted questions and answers from other local government professionals; and post questions to other members and select vendors.

In addition, the portal functions as an up-to-the-minute tool to keep you informed and on top of happenings and events of interest in NHLoGIN and in New Hampshire local government, allowing you to: participate remotely in meetings; subscribe to NHLoGIN news feeds; discover pending legislation that could impact you; check out upcoming events and post them automatically to your calendar; and join in on bite-sized surveys of timely issues and see what others think.

Most importantly, our portal is a dynamic work-in-progress, evolving to fit users’ needs and becoming more valuable as more people use it to contribute and collaborate.

Forums Take Communication to the Next Level
Communication is always a struggle in our fast-paced environment. Knowing what to ask, when to ask and who to ask can be a challenge. The new Forums section of the portal can be part of the answer.

The Forum page provides a single place to view and engage in on-point, on-topic discussions of interest to guests and members. The Forum functions like an electronic bulletin board, presenting threaded discussions, which are a series of linked messages that are posted, viewed and archived on the site. Discussion participants can view both previous and current messages, and post responses to them on their own schedule. Participants can also subscribe to threaded discussions, and receive an e-mail message when a new message of interest has been posted to a discussion they are following. This merges the benefits of personal e-mail and electronic bulletin boards into one handy tool.

Some of the Forum discussions you can view and subscribe to include:

  • News & Announcements
  • Classifieds & Employment
  • Education & Career Advancement
  • Finance
  • Grants
  • HR & Staffing
  • Issues & Advocacy
  • Policies (questions and advice on developing and implementing written policies)
  • Purchasing (questions and advice on purchasing RFQs, RFPs, RFIs, etc.)
  • Tech Talk
  • Tools & Resources

Subscribe to only the discussions you want, or just get e-mails when someone posts a reply to your questions. You decide how to right-size your participation.

NHLoGIN’s e-mail listserv will also continue to be supported for the near future. Later this year, it will be incorporated into a forum that will allow participants to select whether they wish to receive all e-mails or just view the discussion at their leisure.

Browse the Document Library for a Wide Range of Resources
So much of our effort goes into researching and writing. What if there was a place where you could boot-strap these tasks and projects based on the best efforts of others? Our Document Library is such a place, saving you time by avoiding the need to reinvent the wheel.

Sporting a familiar Microsoft Windows folder look-and-feel, the Document Library organizes a wealth of resources into one easy-to-access place. Here you can download or contribute documents, images and links to other Web sites. You can find sample documents to collaborate and build upon, plus links to free tools and services and other resources recommended by your peers. The Document Library is also where you’ll find NHLoGIN meeting minutes, agendas and newsletters.

As with the Forums, participants can choose to subscribe to receive an e-mail message when a document or folder of interest has been added or updated, saving you valuable time and eliminating the need to check back periodically.

Some of the Document Libraries you can view, contribute and subscribe to include:

  • Best Practices
  • Guides to Products & Purchasing
  • Newsletter Archive
  • NHLoGIN Meeting Minutes
  • Requests for Proposals (RFPs)
  • Sample Contracts
  • Sample Presentations
  • State Document Links
  • White Papers

MITC – Support for Municipal IT Professionals
The challenges of eGovernment are of particular concern to Information Technology (IT) professionals in local government. In 2008, NHLoGIN will continue to expand services to these constituents through our Municipal Information Technology Committee (MITC). More than just another committee, MITC members are leaders of local government IT, change agents and decision makers in their organizations, and serve as both stakeholders and advisors to other New Hampshire government associations and agencies.

MITC will host special presentations, workshops and promotions on IT topics and issues of interest to NHLoGIN members and the New Hampshire government community. MITC members are expert resources for assisting other members and guests, and also help maintain, develop and support the portal as it evolves and grows.

MITC membership is open to all IT professionals working in New Hampshire municipal, school or county governments, with a goal to become the local government IT professionals association in New Hampshire.

NHLOGIN.ORG Is Your Portal to the World of eGovernment
It has often been said that “many hands make light work." This bit of wisdom aptly demonstrates the benefits of working together. We are confident that this new portal will help the New Hampshire local government community in achieving that goal, so please consider yourself invited to visit our portal and add your “hands" to ours!

John Barker is the Information Technology Division Director for the City of Nashua, and serves on the NHLoGIN Executive Board as an IT Professional and MITC Chairperson.

Tony Schaffer is a Senior Applications Developer/Analyst for the City of Manchester, and currently serves as president of the NHLoGIN Executive Board.

NHLoGIN (New Hampshire Local Government Information Network) has been an advocate and collective voice for local government Information Technology (IT) needs and issues for over 10 years. Throughout that history, NHLoGIN has been a leader in eGovernment education, communication and collaboration for municipalities, county governments, school districts and other local government entities. Membership is open to all those involved in or working with New Hampshire local governments.

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