5 Resources For Your Digital Government To Tell An Amazing Story

The infiltration of technology into all state and local governments is imminent. The good thing about this digital era is that there are more resources at the disposal of local government leaders. Technology is essential for a municipality to tell its full story. What are your next steps for setting your “brand” foundation using technology?

This article highlights a couple of resources ranging from expert blog posts to software solutions. In this article you’ll find:

  • GovTech
  • Granicus
  • ELGL
  • Gartner
  • Zencity

Are you preparing your agency for the transition to a more digital government?

GovTech, or Government Technology, is one of the best resources out there for current events and news that accentuates the future of government – the digital transformation that it’s maturing into. The topics of their articles have an enormous range: Technology for elections, digital communities, analytics, cybersecurity, and the workforce are just a few of the fields that their research covers.

GovTech offers a subscription to their newsletter and one of the most useful parts is that the topics mentioned above are sectioned off in order for the reader to select the specific information that they’d like to read about. This helps keep the users engaged and interested in their information. Although we’ve come to the brink of exhaustion with webinars because of how diluted the space has become, their webinars are brief and digestible. They’re able to remove the fluff and get down to the information that their audience cares about.

If you’ve questioned how a resource knows the information or what gives them credibility, there’s no need to do that with GovTech. They’ve collected an assortment of articles and papers that explore the intricacies of modern and developing governments. There are plenty of COVID resources filtered throughout the page. The amount of IT infrastructure and cybersecurity papers is enough to give IT Directors and CFO’s material to think about any idea – and it’s continuing to grow!

If you’re familiar with e.Republic, you should become familiar with Government Technology. They’re a leader in the space and can help any municipality employee with finding a direction.

How does your agency grow through a digital government and where does it showcase its success?

For some agencies, their success is highlighted on the website under an “about” section or maybe even an “awards” section. For others, their success stories are plastered all over the internet – on company websites that use their success as value points. One of the companies that seem to provide a lot of success is Granicus, a leader in SaaS solutions for state and local government agencies.

Grand Rapids, Michigan has a population of around 200,000 residents and was determined to provide them with efficient services while freeing up time for employees to focus on more important and critical-thinking tasks. Essentially, they were looking to provide a more digital city hall – reduce the number of people needing to come into city hall for a transaction, increase the number of payments online, and provide more online services overall. Grand Rapids’ success story is highlighted on the Granicus website and because of that, people are aware that the city in western Michigan was able to add 257+ new services online, increase the number of payments online to 50%, and reduce the number of walk-ins (nearly 80,000) by 79%.

Another city that is utilizing Granicus tools and gaining recognition as a fast-growing area is Fairfax City, Virginia. They have a population that’s a fraction of Grand Rapids, sitting at around 24,000. The new Communications and Marketing Director found the previous website hard to navigate. He noticed that there weren’t many subscribers to their information, and many that were subscribed ended up being internal. However, using the digital tools and resources that Granicus offers, Fairfax doubled their newsletter subscribers and were able to receive over 1,000 respondents to their survey within two days. Not only did the tools help them externally, it allowed for the other departments to collaborate and be included in the marketing of agency content.

Municipalities are improving and the proof is being displayed all over. Work with companies who are proud to showcase their success through the agency success. Granicus is one of those companies, and they’re working to help guide towards a more digital government.

What part do good leaders play in a successful story of a government agency?

It’s not just the tools that a municipality uses that determine whether it can tell an amazing story or not. The leadership of the organization plays an extremely important role. ELGL, or Engaging Local Government Leaders, produces a podcast that features interviews and other bits of incredible information, from first-hand sources. They’re able to bring on impactful speakers in occupations such as City Managers, Planners, Technology Officers; company Analytics Directors, CEOs, Diversity & Inclusion Officers; press Associates, Journalists, Project Managers, etc.

GovLove is an opportunity for people to listen in on important Q&A’s and an opportunity for more seasoned leaders to offer opinions, advice and statistics. In one of the more recent episodes, they were able to sit down with the city manager out of Goodyear, Arizona – Julie Karins – to talk about managing in a fast-growing area. According to the census report from 2020, Goodyear was one of the top 10 fastest growing cities in America. Goodyear was named after the Goodyear tire and is starting to develop into more than just a small community – hosting hubs for companies such as chewy.com, Amazon and Microsoft. This development has helped the community flourish and multiply the job count; an increase of 8,300 jobs. According to Karins, the community was able to increase population by 46% between 2010 and 2020, from around 65,000 to over 95,000 residents. In the episode she mentions that “thoughtful planning is the key”. The city is planning for growth of upwards to 750,000 residents in the community. Julie Karins’ leadership is playing a huge part in the growth of Goodyear, and you can find the rest of the story here to listen in on how they’re planning for the future.

The podcast was also able to talk with author and President of Strategic Steps, Inc., Ian McCormick on what good governance is and his thoughts on being a leader in the municipality. The podcast starts off with some rather entertaining banter between the host and McCormick, and then falls into an intriguing conversation about his book on who does what in a local government agency- the managing and governance. The book is divided into two different approaches: what governance is and principles of good governance. One of the chapters is titled “No Strategy Survives First Contact With Reality”. Hearing conversations and discussions like the ones found in this episode and in the book are what helps government leaders think critically about plans for the future.

How important are the data and analytics in a success story?

The data and analytics are what drive the story within your government agency. You can’t build a story without them. Companies like Gartner are establishing this as a principle, and when you think about what has been mentioned previously in this post, it’s hard to deny. Their goal is to “deliver value by focusing on data and analytics, evaluating business outcomes and addressing existing IT skills gaps.”

Through their extensive research into the public sector industry, they’ve seen that 80% of government organizations are at the developing stage of digital maturity. The good news is that they also state a third of government organizations are feeling more inclined to transform. A lot of their information is centered around IT Directors, CTO’s, CIO’s and other technology personnel, but they also provide statistics and information that’s aimed at general leadership and trends.

Gartner’s page is saturated with research and webinars. “The transition to digital government requires careful planning and a focus on outcomes”, and with data from resources like Gartner, government employees are able to analyze the most efficient approaches for the best outcomes. If you’re a CIO and looking to gain more insight into maturity of a digital organization, security, citizen engagement, etc., check out the research material filled with excellent information.

How can bringing together the data and the residents help foster an amazing story?

A company known as Zencity is looking to perfect the answer to this question. They’re “reinventing the way cities and counties make decisions” with a cross-channel insights and analytics platform. Being transparent is one of the most important decisions that an agency can make, and the communication with residents should be a top priority if it wants to grow with a great story. Working with International City Manager’s Association (ICMA), the United States Conference of Mayors and National Association of Counties (NACo) has really helped establish Zencity as a leader in the industry.

Municipalities are using these platforms and creating success stories of their own: As we know, there have been opposing views with vaccinations for COVID. The agency in Philadelphia, PA had the idea – like many others – to offer a cash incentive for getting the vaccination. There was immediate backlash. Using the tools that Zencity has to offer, Philadelphia gathered information on the disconnect between their council and the residents; were they upset because there are more important matters for money, was it a bribe, where did the funding come from, and why are unvaccinated residents getting an incentive? The amount of positivity centered around the sweepstakes was around 3%, with negativity around 18%. After adjusting messaging, Philadelphia was able to turn that 3% positivity into 21%. Finding the data and taking the initiative to involve the residents with a more informed approach provided value and success in their story.

Homelessness in Oregon is estimated to be at 14,655 people. Many cities in the nation are taking on this challenge and getting feedback from the community on how to best take care of the situation. The city of Beaverton, OR took this situation head on and utilized Zencity tools to collect feedback on what they think is the best approach. Including the residents in the decision ended up playing to the benefit of Beaverton council. The city was able to provide a Safe Parking program, which offered homeless people with cars a safe space to park. With feedback from and geo-location tools, Beaverton was able to “keep an ear to the ground” and understand neighborhood-specific concerns – creating healthy discussions on social media platforms. Understanding resident concerns is what gave Beaverton an amazing story about their homeless population.

Is your government agency trying to tell an amazing story?

Companies are creating tools to help government organizations tell stories of their successes. There are resources out there – podcasts, research articles, webinars, conferences – that are strengthening the ability of a municipality to understand how the future of state and local government is evolving. Use these resources. Become a story of success. We are in the very beginning of digital transformation, and the organizations that take advantage of them will be set up for even better stories; drawing in new neighbors while creating the digital infrastructure to grow in the future.

Check out some of the resources that we’ve found and join our community to see what’s working in your area.

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