Virtual Town Hall: How Middletown Uses Technology to Serve You Online
Patch sat down with IT Director Matthew Wainwright to learn that Middletown residents never need to leave their living rooms to visit town hall.
Matthew Wainwright, Information Technology Director for Middletown, does not consider his role as just managing bytes. Rather, he leverages technology to provide a higher level of services and communication to Middletown residents.
“If you are paying taxes, I work for you,” Wainwright said. “There is nothing technical about it.”
During the last snow storm, Middletown residents did not need to call the police station, seek out a website or even know about the storm, to learn about a parking ban. The notice from the police department was pushed to the Town’s Facebook feed, so it came up on the mobile phones and computers of residents who have “liked” that page to subscribe to it.
“The idea is simplistic,” Wainwright said. “We are not trying to do anything too complicated or expensive.”
It may appear simple, but neighboring Newport has yet to fully embrace social media, which city officials have said is due to security concerns. During their last strategy meeting, Newport City Council identified communication through social media as a priority for the city.
Wainwright explained that for Middletown, security is not an issue because everything is hosted off internal networks. Facebook updates, for instance, exist on Facebook servers. This layer of separation provides security for any confidential data such as resident information and also ensures the town can communicate with residents during emergencies such as Hurricane Irene, when the island lost power.
Middletown does not only leverage Facebook to communicate, but has built a virtual town hall where residents can “stop in” to pay their taxes, ask questions, watch council meetings and even apply to sit on town boards.
“There are people who come into town hall and pay taxes, get cookies,” said Wainwright. “But that is an older generation. We need to be sensitive to all generations in the town and the younger generation would rather not come to Town Hall to do business.”
Below are the resources Middletown residents have access to from their mobile phones and computers:
If residents subscribe to the Facebook page by clicking “like” on the page, they will automatically get updates through the news feed. Important updates from closures, parking bans to employment opportunities are available in the feed, across all town departments. (Editor's note: There is a page that appears the same, but we confirmed was not the official Middletown Facebook page. The official page is called The Town of Middletown, RI.)
Also be sure to “like” the Middletown Patch Facebook to subscribe to updates on news and events!
Citizen Request (Work Orders)
Residents may submit work order requests, such as to report a pothole or submit a concern about trash, through this online interface. All orders are routed to the appopriate department, assigned a ticket number and the resident will be notified when it has been resolved.
Town Council Meetings
Residents can watch meetings, browse agendas and read meeting minutes.
Pay Taxes Online
Code Red Alerts (https://cne.coderedweb.com/Default.aspx?groupid=fk35SoGnNvJKNTjLa%2bBdKA%3d%3d)
Residents can submit an emergency alert to notify residents and emergency response teams. Residents may also suscribe to be notified of code red alerts that are submitted in Middletown.
Middletown crash reports can be accessed online.
Online Mooring Requests (http://permits.onlinemooring.com/middletownri/)
Open Town Hall
Residents can ask questions and provide opinions in a moderated forum.