Oregon City launches website with AI-assisted search

Oregon

Oregon City transitioned to a new look for its website on Sept. 7, though preparations have been happening for several months.

“A lot of work goes on in the background when you have a few thousand pages that need to be transferred,” said Oregon City IT Manager David Knoll who oversaw the project. “The site has a lot of information going back more than a decade. The challenge is to keep all the information accessible and easy to find without being overwhelming for the user.”

In addition to a new look with a menu structure meant to help residents quickly find what they’re looking for, the site has some additional features including an AI-assisted search, and new tools to keep residents informed.

“The AI tool is branded after the city’s municipal elevator, and we named it ‘Ellee’ to match. It’s an adaptive tool, so the accuracy and intricacy of its answers will grow the more its used,” Knoll said.

Two new features for community engagement were added. They are Community Voice and the ability to conduct informal polls.

“Community Voice gives residents the opportunity to share ideas with the city and residents alike,” said Jarrod Lyman, Oregon City’s community communications manager. “We can create ‘initiatives’ which are topics that residents can comment on and give feedback. Currently we have spots for community event ideas, infrastructure improvements and the ongoing Parks and Recreation Master Plan Process. We’ll continually add more.”

To use Community Voice, residents can create a free account on the website. This account will also allow users to customize notifications. They can receive emails or text alerts when various elements on the site are updated. Options include being alerted when new meeting agendas are posted, a press release is published, new events added to the calendar and more.

“One of the primary goals for the site was to increase public awareness and engagement. These tools really help residents stay informed,” Lyman said.

The new website is accessed at the same URL as before, orcity.org.

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