October 7, 2008

Interactivity Guide Expands City Web Site

By Ted Sillanpaa

PLEASANT HILL -- It's probably exactly the type of thing that the Internet was intended to provide us.

The city of Pleasant Hill has created an interactive community guide that's available on the home page of the city's Internet Web site. The guide provides 360-degree virtual tours, maps and more for residents and visitors to the area.

"I believe it's the first interactive site of its kind in any town or jurisdiction," said Pleasant Hill public information officer Martin Nelis. "It's a very dynamic page and dynamic part of our Web site. We're constantly adding and updating information."

On the city's Web site, the Interactive Community Guide link is prominently featured. Click on the guide link and a map of Pleasant Hill appears with shopping areas, dining, hotels, parks and recreation, entertainment and culture, schools and more highlighted.

"The city of Pleasant Hill passed an ordinance to provide more public outreach," Nelis said. "The guide will allow residents as well as visitors to the community to go online and search for whatever it is they're looking for in town. They can customize their search to help them locate schools, dining establishments or anything else in Pleasant Hill."

The virtual guide allows visitors to get a minimum of information or click on the a link that will then guide them to individually- sponsored links to schools, restaurants, houses of worships, entertainment sites and more.

"It's easy to maneuver," said Nelis, who is the Web master on the site constructed by Dan Stone of 360villagevirtualtours.com, who put the actual map online. "Local people or people visiting can, for instance, click on a hotel and be directed to the hotel's own Web site."

In making the decision to fund more public outreach, Pleasant Hill also started putting informational sandwich boards around town to inform residents of public meetings.

"We can mark the location of those sandwich boards on the interactive map," Nelis said. "So, people can click on the sandwich boards on the online map and get the information about the public meeting's time and site that's actually listed on the sandwich board."

The online guide to Pleasant Hill only launched about two weeks ago, according to Nelis.

"We don't want to overload it with information right away," he said. "We want to address specific areas. We've wanted to enhance our downtown shopping area, for instance, so we're trying to use the virtual guide to do that. People can go online and see exactly what our downtown shopping district has to offer."

Nelis is hoping the virtual guide pays big dividends for Pleasant Hill.

"It's state-of-the-art," he said. "We believe the site can generate sales in community businesses and that will result in increased sales tax revenues. It's a win-win situation for the city."Interactivity-- Pleasant Hill's interactive community guide -- with 360-degree virtual tours and maps -- is available on the city Web site at http://www.ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us/

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