Looking back 4 years ago when we started the Kent360 blog site, part of our motivation was to expand access to community information, and I think we’ve been successful at that. Today we’re in good company, with close to a dozen web sites posting information of what’s going on in our hometown.
I’m hopeful that we contributed to the evolution of the online information networks in Kent by giving people another option for keeping track of what’s happening. Our goal was to open the doors to City Hall and the Council Chambers in a way that wasn’t always possible for newspapers to do, offering insights into why decisions were made and what’s next for our community through the eyes of the City Manager.
We knew there had been lots of good things happening in Kent but there wasn’t always a venue to showcase those good news stories, so Kent360 was born to fill that gap. Admittedly we were unabashedly optimistic in our approach, not to sugar coat troubles but to offer a perspective on our choices that gave pride and hope a chance to be felt by anyone that called Kent home.
The Kent 360 blog site got us started, and last year we added Facebook and Twitter to the mix for all those socially networked folks — and we’ve got more web products in the pipeline for 2011. The good news is that web information is more ubiquitous than ever before. The information highway is starting to get a bit congested, not from bandwidth limitations but from all the choices that are out there.
And not surprisingly, what used to be a fairly fragmented information arena, seems to be creeping its way towards the kind of one stop shop that we always hoped we could provide with Kent360. Our ambition had been to evolve Kent360 into a community portal that provided an easy to navigate platform to scan the community horizon and provide a 360 degree (hence the name Kent360) panoramic perspective on all that goes into making Kent such an eclectic, vibrant and engaging place.
We’re still working towards that goal but in the meantime there’s others that share that vision and they’ve put out some good sources online for Kent stuff (catch-all technical term). The days of one size fits all are behind us so I think there’s plenty of room for all these sources, as they each provide a unique perspective that allows you to customize your network to suit your interests.
So in this age of information abundance, dive in, and get plugged in:
City of Kent Official Web Site: http://kentohio.org/
This is the original City entry into cyberspace and it remains our workhorse. It operates on half-a-shoestring budget which means it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but what it lacks in glitz and glam, it makes up for in function and information.
City of Kent Twitter Site: http://twitter.com/CityofKentOhio
This is the newest member of the City’s web family and true to Twitter roots — it’s short, concise and updated 2-3 times a day.
City of Kent Nixle (Emergency Alert) Site: http://local.nixle.com/zipcode/44240/
In looking for ways to put emergency/alert information out to people quickly and at no cost, the City is experimenting with an online notification system that allows the City to post alerts and registered subscribers will then immediately receive phone and/or email notices.
City of Kent Parks and Recreation Site: http://www.kentparksandrec.com/
With so many different programs and events, Kent Parks and Rec hosts their own dedicated web site which has a modern yet friendly, local feel.
City of Kent Economic Development Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kent-Ohio-Development/172007502823141?v=wall#!/pages/Kent-Ohio-Development/172007502823141?v=wall
This is a relatively new addition to the City’s web portfolio but with so many economic development leads coming from online sources, we felt that we needed to include an easily accessible Facebook page.
Main Stree Kent Site: http://www.mainstreetkent.org/
This is a community based site that showcases the activities, the events, and the retail, entertainment and dining options in downtown Kent. Main Street Kent has a Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/MainStreetKent and a Twitter site http://twitter.com/MainStreetKent
Kent Area Chamber of Commerce: http://www.kentbiz.com/
This is the local business web source hosted by the Kent Area Chamber — where to eat, where to shop — you name it, if it’s in Kent, it’s listed on this site for your convenience.
Kent Ohio Community Site: http://www.kentohio.net/
This is a grass roots site that offers a wide array of information about Kent. It shares great historical stories about Kent and provides plenty of current event information to create your own Kent memories. They also have a twitter site: http://twitter.com/kentohio
Kent Patch Site: http://kent.patch.com/
This is a new site sponsored by a unit of AOL Inc. It’s part of a nationwide unveiling of the new Patch business concept and although it leans heavy towards a news service it offers plenty of general community information that is easy to use and navigate.
The Local Newspaper, Record Courier Site: http://www.recordpub.com/
While this site isn’t dedicated to just Kent, it certainly features a lot of Kent news stories and commentary on Kent issues.
Kent Wikipedia Site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent,_Ohio
For general statistical information about Kent, it’s tough to beat this site.