An increased online presence of community members and remote workers during the pandemic offers municipalities a fresh and cost-effective opportunity to advance local government digital service.
For cities and municipalities, the question now becomes: How can local leaders embrace this new era of civic engagement in the world of COVID-19 to deliver digital solutions that help everyone meet the moment?
One way to do that is to invest in digital tools, technologies and talent that can help local governments develop online civic engagement and citizen service outlets.
Digital government service solutions must be designed — by agencies or contracted vendors — to be platform and device agnostic (or, at least, interchangeable) on the back end; taking an omnichannel approach that addresses the needs of citizens and agencies through web, mobile, social media and offline options on the front end.
In the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic has literally closed city halls and forced government agencies at all levels to rethink modernizing public sector work to digitally and equitably deliver citizen services.
A recommended path toward solution(s): In addition to always-on capabilities, digital government platforms need to be able to deliver goods and services to citizens directly and without friction.
People are bringing a new civic experience to the forefront of local governments that’s delivered on their terms — and aligned with growing demand for always-on, 24/7 information and services.
The shift in thinking has produced civic engagement defined not by a sprint to profits, as is the case in the private sector, but by the ability for a representative community to actually influence policy and shape citizen services delivery.
In response, agencies should invest in the creation of digital forums for two-way communication to capture feedback that accurately reflects the demands and needs of the local community at the individual household level.
They should consider developing long overdue digital solutions that amplify diverse community voices, deliver critical services and help to inform people broadly.
The market features solutions that are purpose-built for local governments to integrate with legacy IT systems while transitioning traditionally in-person services to digital interactions.
A recommended path toward solution(s): Municipalities should jump at this chance to really listen to diverse community voices pushing for change — especially as some powerful people in government and society seek to quiet or ignore them.
The past few months have reinforced what the real power of local government is: To efficiently offer services and information that directly impact people’s lives.
For local government agencies in the midst of digital transformation, building convenience into in-house digital government offerings and solution procurements is crucial.
Further, the advent of accessible and affordable (or free) digital engagement platforms now complements an expanding recognition among American society that truly impactful things can come from government sources.
They want around-the-clock access to government services and options for ways to interact with service providers that meet their needs while taking their personal comfort into account.
Platforms that not only offer needed government services, but also prioritize input from residents and encourage community dialogue guided by clarity, trust and accountability.