The Walpole Board of Selectmen approved funds to replace and upgrade their town website at their meeting Tuesday night.
The new website, Virtual Town Hall, will feature better functionality and more user-friendly aspects than the current site, according to IT Director Pat Krusko.
Town Administrator Michael Boynton said the current site is a "home made system" which has been used for over 10 years.
“Most of us who have searched the website, it’s not as flexible as we would like,” said Boynton.
The site will cost $9,000 to launch and an additional $4,000 annually.
The town will use Verizon Funds - part of a technological allowance the town has as part of a contract with Verizon Fios - to fund the project.
“It’s a really great design and one of the things is to keep it as simple as possible and people will be able to see what they want and they’ll be able to go to it,” Krusko said.
“From a technical standpoint, one of the things that impressed me with this particular company is they use Drupal as a Content Management System. Drupal to a technical person is probably the gold standard. It’s something that’s used by most universities to manage their website, it’s used by the White House and other federal [entities] to manage the website,” she said.
Currently, in order for Krusko to post something such as a meeting agenda on the site, she would have to post the same information in four different places. The same goes for every committee that has an agenda to post.
If there is an emergency in town Krusko must go to town hall to put the information up on the website.
“We’re getting to that point where we shouldn’t have to call Pat in or call Cindy in to come into the town hall computers and upload this information to those services,” Boynton said. “Now this is going to be something where if I need access to it or if I need to get an alert out onto the website I can access it from home and put the information up online real time. Rather than 'Let’s get somebody back to town hall to get it set up.'"
Selectmen Michael Berry has experience with the Virtual Town Hall system and believes it is a step in the right direction for Walpole.
"I think just making it easier to navigate. I know it became difficult after a while when there is so much information that you want to put out there and we wanted to try and make it as easy as possible without having to have people make three or four clicks once they got to the website before to try and find what they’re looking for," Berry said.
“It’s an e-government world now and I think making the investment, and it is going to cost some money, it is well worth it I think because the residents are doing more and more online,” he said.