City of Asheville wins national award for its SimpliCity search tool

Press release from The City of Asheville:

The City of Asheville won the Technology Award for its SimpliCity search engine during the Code for America Summit Oct. 2 in Oakland, Calif.

In the judge’s comments it was noted that “SimpliCity is a stellar example of how even the smallest in-house teams can deliver great digital services.”

Launched in June, SimpliCity makes city data easy to find. SimpliCity’s tagline is “city data simplified” and it provides easy access to city data through a single search bar.

Powered by open data and developed with Lean Startup and usability principles, the focus of SimpliCity is to answer questions of interest in the simplest manner possible. Citizens can track crime and development near their home, and get answers to simple questions like “when is my recycling day?” City employees can quickly determine if an address falls within city limits before issuing a permit. Both the citizen and employee experience is designed to be quick, simple, self-service and easy.

In the past, cities provided an overwhelming amount of information through dense and frustrating portals and PDFs. SimpliCity is so easy that anybody with a smart phone can use it.

The judges also noted that: “As important as what was built, was how Asheville’s team built Simplicity. Led by Jonathan Feldman, Asheville’s CIO, the team used lean startup methods. They built a small, quick prototype that talked to the city’s ArcGIS ESRI server in about 90 days, then continually measured and learned with real users, constantly iterating and improving their service.”

“An open source project hosted on Github, SimpliCity can be used by other governments.”

“This award shows us that our focus on business and public technology is starting to pay off,” said Scott Barnwell, Business & Public Technology Manager for the City of Asheville.

“Our bet on Lean Startup, usability testing, and customer focus really paid off; this award encourages us to keep going in this direction,” said Cameron Carlyle, an analyst with the City of Asheville.

Find more judge’s comments here.

If you have not yet been to the City’s SimpliCity site be sure to check it out. You’ll get answers in seconds, not minutes.

See a video about SimpliCity here:

About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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