City of Richmond Receives Digital Achievement Awards

The City of Richmond Department of Information Technology (DIT) has recently been recognized for several digital achievements as e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government announced its 2011 Best of the Web and Digital Government Achievement Awards. The City received awards for the Mayor’s Participation Action and Communication Team (MPACT) and the Richmond Grows Gardens Online Permit Application in the Government-to-Citizen City Government category. The City was also listed as a finalist in the 2011 Best of the Web Awards in the City Portal Category. The Digital Government Achievement Awards recognize outstanding agency and department websites and projects at the application and infrastructure level.

“These digital achievement awards acknowledge the City’s Department of Information Technology’s dedication of striving to develop new technologies and systems for internal customers and most importantly, the residents of the City of Richmond.”,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “I am proud of all of DIT’s hardworking employees for helping our City receive this national recognition.”

MPACT is Mayor Jones’ initiative to encourage community participation; drive city action and foster communication to develop a shared vision for Richmond's future. City residents may submit a priority request through the MPACT website, 311 or smart phone and participate in open forums held monthly throughout the City. Priority requests include potholes, abandon cars, non-functioning street lights, overgrown lots, non-functioning traffic lights, illegal dumping, and open or vacant abandon properties. Residents who submit a priority issue will be informed throughout the entire service request process. Mayor Jones’ appointed MPACT Co-Chairs hold monthly sector meetings to discuss long term/complex issues like land use, economic development, public safety, quality of life, etc. Residents and cross-functional teams of City staff will work to develop potential solutions. City staff will also work with the MPACT Co-chairs to prioritize issues, discuss solutions and to make recommendations for the City’s budget development process.

Mayor Jones established Richmond Grows Gardens as he recognizes that community gardens provide economic benefits, increase social equity, strengthen our community, and promote environmental stewardship. To encourage the growth of community gardens in the Richmond community, the City has offered City property for community gardens to incorporated organizations, unincorporated organizations and governmental organizations via an online application process. These Garden Groups are encouraged to engage with individual gardeners by creating their own policies to rent plots or otherwise let individuals use their parcel. A community garden is defined as a portion of city owned property used to grow fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, wood products, native or ornamental plants for non-commercial purposes, i.e. where there is no exchange of goods for monetary value.

The goals of Richmond Grows Gardens are:

· To support the sustainability goals for the City of Richmond: improve the quality of life for residents, create a healthy environment and enhance economic development and job creation opportunities;

· To increase the public’s understanding of the value of community gardens and the need for community gardens in the City;

· To encourage and facilitate local urban agriculture which increases access to fresh, nutritional food for residents-particularly those in underserved communities; and

· To transform vacant and underutilized City parcels into productive gardens.

The Center for Digital Government is a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government. The Center is a division of e.Republic, Inc., the nation‘s leading publishing, research, event, and new media company focused on information technology for the state/local government and education sectors.