The South Fayette website has yielded strong statistics and proven to be an effective tool for prioritizing residents’ interests since its launch in December 2014, according to the township’s community development director.
“When we initially launched the site,” said Andrea Iglar, “we expected the website was going to be a great way to get information out to people, but really the strength of our online outlets has been the interaction from the community.”
In addition, she said, resident involvement in township government has increased and the number of phone calls from people seeking information has declined.
Citing the recent budget discussions, Ms. Iglar said that at least 1,000 people visited the finance page. “You can really tell what is trending.”
Furthermore, residents were discussing it and offering input on social media. She found the feedback to be enlightening. “Sometimes the comments reinforced our thoughts, other times it broadened our perspective. We were also introduced to ideas that we had not thought of.”
Ms. Iglar surveys the website and social media daily and forwards information to staff when appropriate.
She was able to tally information on the budget and on a plan to start having residents pay directly for garbage pickup into a report for township officials to review. Ultimately, commissioners decided against charging residents for waste collection.
“Through education, and being able to hear so much more feedback, we were able to have an organic community decision,” she said.
Township manager Ryan Eggleston said, “With Facebook especially, we are able to keep our pulse on what our residents are thinking and tweak what we’re doing to serve them better.”
Ms. Iglar also noted that new faces are coming — or returning -- to commissioners meetings. “Having those online outlets is getting more people involved in a more permanent way,” she said.
Ms. Iglar noted that the township office receives fewer phone calls now that information is posted online.
“It just goes to show how having simple information online helps people and saves them from making a call,” she said.
“It’s much easier to notify residents of any announcements we have,” said Peggy Patterson, township administrative assistant.
The website also offers a tracking system for communication. If a resident complains about a pothole, public works has a way to track the progress on the matter.
In addition, residents can choose to sign up for notifications such as township agendas, emergency alerts, job postings, news items, road projects and community events. Notifications can be received via email, text or both.
With the exception of the home page, the most frequently visited page was trash and recycling. Other information revealed that 70 percent of the “likes” on Facebook are from women, and the website had over 220,000 views, with the most popular search terms including fireworks, election results, Fairview Park, police, dye test, zoning, budget and trick or treat.
“I’m thrilled with the new website, and it absolutely was worth the investment,” Mr. Eggleston said.
To read more about the South Fayette website: www.southfayettepa.com/web
Amy Philips-Haller, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org