City of Berkeley launches updated online public records portal

Leonie Leonida/Staff

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The city of Berkeley launched a new online records portal Aug. 15 to provide an easier way to search the city’s website for public records.

Public documents, such as city council minutes, staff reports, ordinances and resolutions, can now be found on the city of Berkeley website, some dating back to the early 1900s. Users can now search for any public record by category and enter key terms and time ranges for specificity.

“We’re always trying to improve our city services and the way we serve Berkeley and the quality of what we do and the types of services we offer,” city spokesperson Matthai Chakko said.

The original search engine launched in 2014 was defective, according to Councilmember Kriss Worthington. He said the new portal is more efficient and user-friendly, noting that technology can be a “powerful” tool for transparency.

“(The new system) makes more information available, which is good, but more importantly it makes the information easier to search and find,” Worthington said.

Worthington said the financing of the Records Online portal is a potential downside of the new program. It costs the city to set up any form of online record system, and there is an ongoing cost for customer support, Worthington said. The new system is a part of Mayor Jesse Arreguín’s budget for funding projects within the Digital Strategic Plan.

According to Worthington, the city has been making a conscious effort to expand in the technology realm. The new online portal is just one aspect of the Digital Strategic Plan, which also involves a revamped city website, customer service initiative and customer service management.

“We’re very proud of being able to offer this and increase the records that we have online, and we’re trying to do as much as we can,” Chakko said.

Shelby Mayes covers race and diversity. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @shelbymayesdc.