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City pledges transparency with $5.5 million digital plan

City-wide WiFi plan has long been on the municipal agenda

The City of Richmond will be spending $5.5 million over the next three years to improve its digital presence and provide citizens with easier access to online municipal services.

At the behest of George Duncan, the city’s chief administrative officer, the digital strategy hopes to move the city “to the forefront of innovation for municipal government across North America,” according to a report from Grant Fengstad, the city’s director of information technology (IT).

The report was approved by a majority of city council last week at a committee meeting.

A major component of the plan involves 24/7 access to services such as bill payments, business licensing and development-related applications.

As well, the city has been planning to unveil free Wi-Fi Internet service at all city-owned community centres, as well as some heritage sites and parks. The Wi-Fi plan was announced last February and phase-one is expected to be complete within months.

Another goal of the digital strategy is to provide transparent governance.

“Technology has enabled governments to be much more open and transparent. Streaming video of council meetings, social media websites, virtual town halls and mobile apps are making it easier than ever for the public to provide input to government and feel more connected and engaged,” states the report.

The full report is here.