Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Give The Data To The People

Because I'm one of those last-minute sort of people I was hurriedly trying to figure out if my property taxes had been paid. Really Oct 15th is, like, tomorrow so this is really ahead of the game for me. Naturally the first place to look is my financial institution since my mortgage is setup with escrow. Easy, right?

Nope. After instant messaging with a representative (Great service by the way Kari. Thanks!) the only way for me to check my escrow balance is via my statements. I know that they have that information in their systems. It's not a difficult thing to find. They could send an email notification when the escrow got paid...that'd be cool. How about an app that would notify me when escrow items were paid? I'd use it.

Even after being assured by the rep that my taxes had been paid I still wanted to verify (trust but verify - rule of thumb for all vendor interactions). How could I do this without going to a branch and asking for the proper screen to be brought up? Then my memory finally caught County's website.

Brown County here in MN has a pretty good GIS and Property website. It's evolved quite a bit through the years and there's a great tie-in with their property records system. Looked up my property and, boom, no taxes due. Easy peasy. 

Such a simple thing. The data's sitting there in the database along with all the other property data. No earth-shattering innovations but it saved me time and saved an employee's time to interact with me for something that wasn't all that important. I'm just being thorough and it's not their job to help me with my trust issues.

The data's there. Give it to the people and you'll make their lives easier and you might just make them happy (or as happy as anyone can be with government maybe).

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