Challenge: Leverage technology to engage the Town’s diverse population, which includes its many college and university students.

Solution: CivicEngage, CivicReady, and SeeClickFix keep citizens informed and create opportunities for engagement.

Result: A streamlined process for proactive and impactful citizen communications, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keys to Project

The Civic Experience Platform

Amherst, MA Relies on CivicPlus® Solutions to Power Positive Civic Experiences

Amherst, Massachusetts, population 37,000, is home to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst College, and Hampshire College, making it a temporary stop on the journey of tens of thousands of college students each year. So what does this highly educated but transient population mean to government leaders in Amherst? It means unique engagement and communication challenges. To help reach every resident impactfully and create positive civic experiences that strengthen the relationships between long and short-term residents and their community leaders, Amherst relies on technology solutions from its partner, CivicPlus

“CivicPlus has helped us improve relationships with our community members and build trust in a number of ways. First and foremost would be our town website. We’re able to keep communications and information current and accessible."

—Brianna Sunryd, Town of Amherst Communications Manager & Community Participation Officer

Amherst, MA Relies on CivicPlus® Solutions to Power Positive Civic Experiences

What Civic Experience Means in Amherst, Massachusetts

“The term civic experience encompasses every citizen-government interaction—positive and negative,” said Brianna Sunryd, Town of Amherst Communications Manager & Community Participation Officer. “It includes everyone who wants to participate on a committee and everyone who needs to pay a ticket. It encompasses everything from the roads citizens drive on to the process of running for election. Our job is to improve each of those experiences.”

In Amherst, a vital component of positive civic experiences is facilitating trusted interactions.

“CivicPlus has helped us improve relationships with our community members and build trust in a number of ways. First and foremost would be our town website. We’re able to keep communications and information current and accessible. Having a trusted place to check information and combat any misinformation that was out there is really important. It was especially important over the course of the pandemic to have a trusted source of information for our community members.”

Civic Experience Use Case: Vaccine Distribution Communications Using CivicReady®

To help mitigate language barriers among its international student population and extend the reach of both emergency and routine communications, Amherst relies on the CivicReady® emergency and mass notification software solution to create positive citizen interactions.

“CivicReady was crucial for us during the pandemic,” said Sunryd. “We spun it up quickly in the early days of the vaccine distribution process. Since we needed to communicate who was eligible to be vaccinated based on age and eligibility guidelines. We had many anxious seniors and residents who speak English only as a second language. So we used CivicReady to broadly distribute news and alerts and also to allow citizens to sign up for relevant eligibility notifications and receive those messages in their preferred language.”

Looking Ahead to a Future of Digital Interactions and Positive Civic Experiences

In addition to the Town’s continued reliance on CivicReady®, Sunryd says that Amherst plans to continue relying on CivicPlus’ CivicHR® applicant tracking software to streamline its internal talent acquisition process. It also plans to expand its reliance upon CivicPlus’ SeeClickFix 311 and work order management software to improve cross-departmental collaboration and rapid responses to citizen requests and inquiries. She adds that utilizing digital tools that enable accountability and progress visibility will help Amherst improve digital interactions with its citizens.

“We’re relying on our CivicPlus technology to help us communicate the work we’re doing in better ways and help us showcase our key projects and how we’re meeting our goals,” said Sunryd. “The question we’re asking ourselves now is ‘how can we tell our story and share information in a way that is easy for people to access?’”

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