Timeframe: September 2014 - December 2014
Jackson, MI boasts more than 300 historic district properties; however the information about the historic status of these properties is not easily accessible. Historic property owners are often unaware that Historic District Commission (HDC) approval is required before externally renovating their historic property. By the time they become aware of this fact, they have often already begun the process of renovation. In addition, the process of submitting an application to the HDC was unclear from instructions on the HDC webpage. Navigating the application was also challenging, which resulted in omission of important facts required by the HDC.
We redesigned the website and built a tool which makes it easier for homeowners in Jackson to find out whether their home is historic or not. We also redesigned the website to provide information about the Historic District Property application for permission approval process. We modified the format of the application form which is now available in both electronic and print formats. Because of the simplification of the form, more succinct content and clear instructions, completing the application now requires less time and effort . Information required to fill the forms is also now more accessible since a lot of outdated and irrelevant information has been removed from the website.
Lastly, we devised recommendations and guidelines for the Historic District Commission to implement a promotional mailer that will alert property owners of the historic status of their home and inform them of relevant responsibilities with regards to renovation.
Being a part of this project has helped us understand what it takes to use information technology to enhance local government. Sustainability is always the most important aspect of any solution, and we had the difficult task of taking modern information technology and adapting it to an organization that may not be as technically proficient. Although it was a challenge, it was rewarding to see how we can use simple, modern technology to truly enhance a local government organization.
The website can be viewed at:http://www.cityofjackson.org/344/Historic-District-Commission