Ars Technica, a widely respected tech blog, is reporting that usage of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser continues to drop, falling to just 60% after many years above 90% of all Internet users.
Unfortunately, the City of New Rochelle relies on a company called NY GIS Group which has been promising for more than a year now that it would update their services to allow non-IE users to access information they host for the City of New Rochelle. Despite past promises, they have failed to do so with the result that a significant portion of Internet users are unable to access critical information such as the City Code of New Rochelle, the online Property Portal and more.
With Microsoft having discontinued the Internet Explorer for the Mac, the City is blocking 100% of mac users. Further, there appears to be no mobile options so users of iPhones, Android and other popular mobile devices are also blocked.
This has nothing to do with the recently updated web site. NY GIS Group hosts information separately; the City web site only links over to their service. City officials need to make it clear to the vendor that providing a service to just 40% of the web site’s visitors is unacceptable and a hard date must be set to provide access to users of all of the most popular web browsers.
UPDATE: Letter to NY GIS GROUP
date Thu, May 12, 2010 at 10:28 AM
subject Re: New Rochelle, NY web site
Seven months ago you wrote to tell me that you were “working diligently” to address the browser compatibility issue I raised last fall which shuts out ALL Mac users and many PC and Linux users who do does not use IE.
Ars Technica is now reporting that 40% of Internet users do not use IE. I cannot fathom why your company believes it is acceptable to offer services to municipalities like New Rochelle and effectively block 40% of the public from viewing the information you are being paid to make available to the public. Given that the issue existed long before I emailed you last fall, your claim to be hard at work on fixing this problem in October 2009 rings hollow.
I wonder how diligently you are working on this issue when you were service is still telling users they must use a web browser developed in 2001 (IE 6.0). You say that your hosted services are compatible with all MS browsers after 6.0. Why doesn’t the error message say that? Recall, I have provided you instructions on a workaround so that users of a Safari browser (and thus all Mac Users) can view the portal. Why are these instructions STILL not part of the error message as a recommended work around? As best I can tell, the screen displaying the error message about the need to IE 6.0 is a small text file that can be changed in about 30 seconds.
I recognize that most and maybe even all of your clients (i.e. governments) are still operating in a IE 6.0 world but the AUDIENCE for the information is not living in 2001. Believe it or not, many people among the other 97% of the country have purchased computers that have modern browsers.
At what point do you feel that you have some sort of obligation to the taxpayers who are funding the purchase of your services to make the data available to the public on the OS platform and browser of choice? At the very least, why not update the error message TODAY.
New Rochelle’s Talk of the Sound
date Thu, Oct 8, 2009 at 1:37 PM
subject Re: New Rochelle, NY web site
Thank you for your email. You make very good points and we are working diligently to address the main issue you raise; compatibility with browsers other than Internet Explorer.
Just as there is no cost for users of Internet Explorer, there will be no cost to users of Safari, Chrome, or Firefox.
And just a point of correction; the portal is accessible on any version of Internet Explorer not just version 6.
On Thu, Oct 8, 2009 at 1:26 PM, Robert Cox
Your company is hosting a property portal database for the City of New Rochelle. I have contacted the people in New Rochelle who are responsible for the web site. They are not IT experts and have been unable to address my concerns about your hosted services. so I am contacting you directly and copying Kathy Gilwit from the City of New Rochelle.
Your web site includes this page: http://www.lumina-media.com/nygis/muni.htm. That page reads, in part: “Because the Portal can be accessed from any computer, residents can minimize trips to City Hall. And because this system operates within a city’s website, staff functions are seamless and efficient.”
I am a Mac User. Whenever I attempt to access the property portal and other hosted services on the City of New Rochelle web site that come from your company I get a message that I am required to use IE 6.0. As I am sure you know, Internet Explorer 6 was released on August 27, 2001. That would be more than EIGHT YEARS ago.
The portal cannot be accessed by ANY computer. In fact, if 6.0 is required it can only be accessed by a very small percentage of computers and most of those are going to be people using legacy systems within corporate or government offices. Anyone who has bought a computer in the past 5 years is NOT using IE 6.0.
I am sure I do not need to tell you that the market share for Internet Explorer has been declining steadily for years: http://marketshare.hitslink.com/report.aspx?qprid=0&qptimeframe=M&qpsp=128. The most recent report I could find indicates that 35% of Internet users are NOT using IE at all, let alone 6.0. Another report out there say IE 6.0 is has about a 25% market share.
I have to wonder what kind of public service is it that is unable to 75% of Internet Users on their preferred browser and not all to Mac users and every popular cell phone O/S? It seems to me this entirely defeats the stated purpose of this project — to minimize trips to City Hall by residents/demands on City staff.
OK. So rant over. I want to know whether there is some upgrade or enhancement that will permit users with modern browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, etc.) on Win/Mac/Linux to access your hosted services linked from the New Rochelle web site? Is this something that would be a free upgrade? Is there a cost? If so, how much? How long would it take?
If you cannot get into specific of the New Rochelle set up I understand but please answer the questions in non-specific terms.