Cook County debuts two Web sites, new social media channels

The new Cook County Government homepage is a place where citizens can find out about news, deadlines, programs and other information to help them interact with the county in a smarter way. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said transparency means delivering useful information to the public in real time. This Web site is designed to do that in a logical and intuitive manner, she said. “The goal was to create and grow the site into a true gateway for county information and the rest of the county’s Web sites. We’re trying to make all our Cook County web properties as informative as possible and we’re laying a good groundwork to be able to better disseminate information and incorporate new technologies to improve the way we serve the public,” she said. The new county home page is located at The Cook County Forest Preserve District also debuted a completely new Web site today at Cook County Forest Preserve District Superintendent Arnold Randall said the site is dramatically more attractive and easier to navigate. “This site reflects our commitment to making visitors’ online experience, as well as their trips to our forest preserve district resources, more enjoyable,” he said. “We look at the Web as a new way to build good relationships and we want to make sure people feel like a visit to our Web site is time well spent. I think the expanded multimedia and search engine capabilities will ensure that.” Other new features include interactive maps and a dynamic calendar of upcoming events. Cook County is stepping for the first time into the realm of social media. Cook County Chief Information Officer Greg Wass said the county’s interest in using social media as a communication tool extends beyond posting to Facebook at tweeting on Twitter. “We use social media of course to provide information and news to the public, but we’re also going to be using it as a listening tool that can alert us to challenges or opportunities for improvement. It’s another way to tap into innovative ideas. Social media is great for connecting people to solutions,” he said. County government serves tens of thousands of people on a daily basis. Their inquiries run across a wide range of topics, from the Botanic Gardens to the criminal courts. “Our task is to provide that information to our residents in smart, convenient way,” Wass said. “I think the average citizen wants information about the county, but oftentimes they don’t want to track down this information during regular business hours or make a trip to the County Building. We’re trying to meet the needs of the public on their terms and their schedule. This new home page represents another step toward that goal.”