ABINGDON - When U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., came to the podium, he remarked how nice it was to have a press conference at Abingdon Town Hall, two blocks from his home.
Similar convenience will soon be at the fingertips of all Abingdon citizens, as the town launched the Ask Abingdon Web site and telephone service Monday morning. With more than 200 information offerings - from animals to utilities and all town services in between - Boucher says the new software, developed by Blacksburg-based Tele-Works, reaffirms Abingdon as a cutting-edge leader in e-government.
"In the middle 1990s, when most people were beginning to learn about the Internet, Abingdon became a pioneer of Southwest Virginia localities by launching the Electronic Village of Abingdon," Boucher said.
"Today, an even more advanced and innovative service, Ask Abingdon, which was developed by Tele-Works, is being launched. With this new service an even broader array of information will be offered, and it will be made available not only through the town's Web site, but by telephone for residents who are on the go and don't have immediate access to the Internet, or those without Internet access."
Tele-Works has developed similar services for municipalities across the United States, including large cities such as Los Angeles. In the coming weeks all Abingdon households will receive a brochure about the Ask Abingdon service, including each of the more than 200 four-digit codes to take users to categories and services over the phone, available at (276)619-0924.
"This is a tremendous step forward," Boucher said. "It is a cutting-edge service, which once again confirms Abingdon's place as a front-runner in communities offering electronic government services, and also confirms Tele-Works' place as a foremost company in software creation for municipalities."
With many town documents, such as building permit applications, users can type in their fax number over the phone and have it sent to them within minutes. For users of Ask Abingdon's Web site, found at www.Abingdon.com, permits can be directly printed off the computer.
Boucher said the launch of Ask Abingdon was the next step in an effective relationship between Abingdon and Tele-Works, which launched a new town Web site last year.
The extensive e-government service that has been built to accompany that site, Boucher said, has taken Abingdon comfortably into a new generation of interactive services.
"The resulting partnership between Abingdon and Tele-Works has been highly productive," Boucher said.
"I think that Web site is one of the best in use by any locality in the United States."