HOW TO PARTICIPATE
1. Register with the city and sign a form pledging to obey computer laws and releasing the city from any liability.
2. The city issues each participant a user identification number and a 15-page instruction manual. The resident chooses a password.
3. Residents can use any kind of home computer, or ones set up in public centers, to access the system and need no special software--merely a modem to connect the computer with the city system by telephone.
4. After reaching the city system, residents enter their number and password--and they're in the network.
WHAT THE SYSTEM CAN DO
1. Bulletin Board. A "read-only" basket in which residents can get various information, including:
Agendas and staff reports for City Council, Planning Commission and Rent Control Board meetings.
Earthquake safety tips.
Police crime statistics, prevention tips.
What is needed to get a building permit or business or dog license.
Phone numbers of city agencies, neighborhood organizations and more than 300 social service agencies.
Schedules of events at the Santa Monica Pier and Civic Auditorium; hours for tennis lessons, softball games and other recreation at parks; bus schedules; cable TV programming.
Consumer affairs and fair housing advice.
City job postings.
Procedures for disposing of toxic household waste.
2. Electronic Mail. Participants send messages to City Hall and a "sorter" channels them to the right officials. If residents ask a question, an official will answer on their home computer. If someone requests forms or publications, they are mailed out.
3. Conferencing. A sort of electronic town hall, in which files will be opened on various topics such as bay pollution, traffic, etc. Residents can enter comments, which will become part of the file. Anybody can call up the file and read the comments, which become a running conversation on the chosen topic.
4. Library. Residents can dial a separate number that gives them access to the library catalogue. They can search for materials by author or title, see what books are in what branch and find out if a certain book has been checked out.