Sunday, September 21, 2014

I think that dwellers of a city should like their environment and sometimes take the initiative to solve problems around them without waiting for a quick action from local authorities.  The critical point here is how people communicate with or make themselves heard by local government. In this sense e-government brings an interactive and fast solution process for local people. By using technology not only people contribute on solving local problems but also local governments can listen and talk to their residents directly and become aware of issues quickly. Therefore e-government and e-participation increase the awareness in the community and strengthen the democracy.

When I came Syracuse, it was the first time in my life that I have been to America. This city actually gave me an unpleasant image of America because I got stuck in the gloomy mood of snowy city. When the spring and then the summer came, I started to see clearly and enjoy the environment where I live. Thus, day by day I got used to live and like this city. On the other hand, with melting snows some problems also were able to seen more clearly.
I have an experience of e-government in Syracuse. A pot hole on my way from my apartment building to the Syracuse University have attracted my attention for a long time. It made driving difficult and sometimes dangerous because it is located in exactly at the connecting point from my building to main road. However, I didn’t know who is responsible to fix it, who inform local authorities about the problem or whether they check and fix the problems automatically by themselves.

After I became aware of in Digital Government class at Syracuse University, I reported the problem online via this webpage, but I did not received any response, call from neither local government nor in a week. Then I decided to report the issue directly local government via its webpage, www.syracuse/ny/us . I tried to find a report or petition section in this website, but it was not easy to reach for me to “I want to file a complaint” section. I think that is more user-friendly than local government website because the visitor just need to enter his/her address, upload a picture or file, and report the problem with a short description. On the other hand, local government webpage seemed to me complex. There is no map which the user can see and marked easily the place of problem in official website of the city. Also the user cannot see the photo of the complaint which he/she uploads when reporting in local government website.

However, the real problem is not about how much the websites is user-friendly indeed.  I used these websites and they worked. The pothole on my road was fixed 10 days after reporting to and 3 days after filing to www.syracuse/ny/us . But that pothole has been there more than two years according to one of my friends who has been living there for four years. Moreover nobody had cared it although many vehicles used this road and many resident see the pothole daily. Thus the real problem is about e-participation. I believe that insufficient e-participation in tackling issues is one of the potholes in the way of e-democracy because e-Democracy is meaningless without e-participation. Weak e-participation may result from digital divide, information inequality or lack of people’s interest. Consequently, to promote e-democracy with e-government practices, local governments should make efforts to fix e-participation as much as to fix potholes on the roads.

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