Blount County’s municipal and county governments will roll out a new online service today that will allow residents to easily access vital and very specific information about where they live.
It’s an application called “My Government Services” and acts almost like a Google Maps for local government.
Linked at cityofalcoa-tn.gov, maryvillegov.com and blounttn.org, the tool allows anyone to search an address and get information on their school, voting and commission districts as well as where they actually live (the county, Maryville, Alcoa, Townsend, Friendsville, Louisville, Rockford, etc.) and what departments serve them — fire, waste collection, recycling.
The move arises from a long-considered effort to phase in new, more comprehensive online tools for residents. Officials told The Daily Times on Thursday that the My Government Services application has been in the works for at least three years.
“Because many service providers cross city and county borders, it can be confusing to residents to know where to go to find certain information,” officials explained in a news release. “This effort is designed to make services easier to find for any address in the county and cities of Maryville and Alcoa.”
Navigating this new feature is straightforward. Residents who visit government websites on any device can click the “My Government Services” icon, which will take them to a map.
From there, they can search any address and immediately generate information about which local governments serve their address, which voting district they’re in or who represents them on the County Commission.
This application is powered by mapping programs called Geographic Information System or “GIS,” which allows city officials nationwide to collect and read location-based data.
Blount County GIS Coordinator Ray Boswell has been at the center of this tool’s development process along with Maryville Administrative Services Director Jane Groff, Alcoa Human Resources Director Melissa Thompson and Blount County Mayor’s Office Executive Assistant Amy Cowden.
“Two key goals in the development of this application are to enable citizens to find information about government services at their convenience and to ensure the constantly changing information is accurate,” Boswell explained in the release. “Using our current GIS platform allowed us to develop this web application so that citizens can obtain information about services 24-7-365 through data that is maintained in our county-wide GIS database.”
The My Government Services tool rollout April 5 is not the end of the local collaborative effort to bring more information to residents’ fingertips.
Boswell said GIS personnel will continue “tweaking” the tool to make it even more useful.
The first phase of the project provides information on solid-waste providers, fire protection and several other resources, but that may only be a start.
“Eventually, additional resources will be added,” the release stated, “making this site a one-stop shop for service-related information.”
Leaders also noted this tool could be a resource for people moving into Blount and wanting to know more about where they’re going to live. “This is free and open to the world,” Boswell said, explaining it won’t just be limited for use by Blount Countians.
While the service is engineered for residents, government staffers hope it also will help answer a plethora of questions they typically field by phone and email.
“We’re really excited about this tool,” Cowden said. “We get a lot of calls from citizens asking the very questions it can now answer for them.”