Missoula County has launched two new online platforms designed to increase community engagement and transparency.

KGVO News spoke to Missoula County Communications Manager Allison Franz about the effort to increase community engagement.

“We have launched a couple of new online platforms,” said Franz. “The first one is a community engagement platform called Missoula County Voice and you can find it online at Missoula County voices.com. It’s a new platform that allows us to have a really easy accessible way for folks to log in and see kind of the different projects and initiatives that the county's working on, and to provide their feedback on those projects.”

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Franz describes the tools available on the website to help Missoula County residents get more involved.

“It has about eight different tools that we can employ on different projects to help us get feedback from the residents who are affected by the work that Missoula County does,” she said. “We have a place on there where you can go report a pothole on a county road or something else that needs to be fixed on a road or on some of the county trails that we maintain. People can go put a pin on a map and report that and then our Public Works crew will get notification and they'll know that’s something they need to get in the hopper to repair.”

For those who want more information about accessing public records, Franz introduced a program called Next Request.

“It's through a software platform called Next Request,” she said. It's essentially an online portal where if you want to go and request public records, you just you log on and you submit your request and then it comes to me and I will assign it to whichever staff the records that are responsive. It's a really helpful way for us to manage those internally and do that a little more efficiently, because they can get a little cumbersome.”

Franz said Next Request can greatly reduce the paperwork involved in many requests for information.

“It's also really great for when we have a really broad request for emails or something and it helps us manage those a lot more efficiently,” she said. “I'm not exaggerating when I say that I've had requests before and it's come back with some 30,000 pages. This platform has some tools to help streamline that and like de-duplicate those messages to help us to fill those requests a lot more quickly and efficiently and make better use of taxpayer dollars in that sense, too.”

Franz also discussed the two platforms on the most recent episode of the Missoula County Commissioners’ podcast ‘Tip of the Spear’.

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