About the carverma.org website
- The code for this website was designed, developed, and is maintained by the all-volunteer Website Committee at no cost to the taxpayers of Carver.
- The content that is displayed on the website is provided by our dozens of amateur "webmasters" who post public documents and maintain subpages for their individual departments, committees, commissions, and boards.
- All information about a particular public meeting is grouped together. The agenda, minutes, any auxiliary documents (spreadsheets, photos, plans, etc.), and meeting video for a particular meeting are all in one place.
- Earlier versions of agendas and minutes are retained and are accessible to the public even as revised agendas and minutes are posted.
- If a public meeting is canceled, or if its location, time, or date is changed the cancelation or change is noted immediately on the website. (And you can also subscribe to get an informational email about such a change as well.)
- Public meeting information is easily searchable through the public meeting search facility.
- The public may subscribe to be informed by email of any of 30 kinds of "events" of likely interest. The subscription mechanism takes great care to make sure that subscriber information remains private; any email address entered into the subscription facility is immediately "encrypted" and only the encrypted form is stored.
- The Where Can I Find...? information facility simplifies the voluminous information by providing "filters" to filter out information that is not of current interest.
- For those who want to learn more about Carver's town government, there is a Town Government "Question of the Day!"
Overall, the site has been designed to provide essential information as quickly as feasible.
- Headline information for all town departments and committees is summarized in one location, and there are quick links on the left side of the home page to upcoming public meetings, department headlines, general headlines, and the "Where Can I Find...? feature.
- Direct links to the major "governing documents" for the Town and information about municipal government are located at the top of the home page.
- Additionally, we've taken care to make the site approachable for less computer-savvy users. We've tried to use a simple, spare layout to avoid pushing too much information at a viewer. Rather, summary information is presented that can be dynamically expanded on request. Additionally, we handle issues like incorrect and broken links not by simply displaying a 404 error page, but by maintaining a mapping from old links to their new location, and guiding a user to a better resolution. Finally, the site's use of language is casual and friendly.
- In keeping with the spirit of volunteer development of the website, we've taken care to let the public know how the site works. All administration tools, functions, and policies are open to examination and use by the public.
Here is advice on how to deal with any problems you may experience with the website.
Here's how to contact the Website Committee.
Here's advice on how to administer the website if you're one of our dozens of amateur website administrators (or if you're just curious).
Public documents are stored in flat files in a standard Unix directory structure. The file system is used for synchronization primitives (old-fashioned, simple, and effective lock files). File and directory naming conventions are POSIX compliant and encode information about the public documents in the names of the documents and directories. This information is used to perform continual checks on the validity of the public documents, and ensures that no document can be incorrectly filed. The naming conventions may be described by a simple regular (type 3) grammar, and will therefore permit a simple automated transfer of the data to a relational database in the future, if necessary.
The above implies that "behind the scenes" we've implemented a custom content management system for posting and maintaining public meeting documents and information for use by our dozens of amateur administrators. The CMS ensures that our public document information assets are both correct and easy to leverage to other applications in order to provide additional service to the public and to improve the efficiency of town departments. The CMS has been designed for use by administrators who have no previous experience with a CMS; typical training time for a new administrator ranges from 0 to 3 minutes.
Archived paper copies of public documents can be accompanied by a QR code to allow direct access from the paper document to the soft copy of the document on the website, and can include a SHA 256 digest code to ensure that the paper and online copies match, and ensure that any document metadata has not been modified since archival. A simple tool intended for use by the keeper of paper archives, but available to anyone, allows anyone with access to an archived paper copy of a public document to verify its validity.