Your local newspaper releases a blurb in the Sunday paper that the city council would be discussing passing a new ordinance for your community about inoperable vehicles on private properties. However, they don't include the date and time of the public meeting in which it would be discussed. A resident in your community is interested in the topic, as they have an old vehicle in their driveway with expired tags and needs some work done to be road-safe.
Your resident visits your local government website, but it was created by the previous city clerk, and hasn't been updated since they left their position; it's hard to edit and manage. Your resident is unable to find the information they're looking for, so they do the next best thing and call city hall. The receptionist is unaware when the council would discuss the inoperable vehicle's ordinance but said they would find out and call the resident back. However, their attention is taken elsewhere, and they forget about the interaction. Unable to visit city hall in person due to their workday, your resident hopes that the paper will update them on the resolution of the ordinance.
A few weeks go by, and the resident checks their mail to find a code violation letter and a fine due to the city. Furious, the resident calls city hall asking when the ordinance was passed and how the city informed the community. Your clerk informs the resident it was posted on the bulletin board in city hall and was posted on Facebook. Your resident informs the clerk they're unable to visit city hall due to their job and are not on social media. Your clerk lets the resident know their hands are tied, and they still need to pay the fine or risk continued violations.
Disgruntled, your resident pays the fine, but not before letting their friends, coworkers, and neighbors know about the situation. This negative civic experience continues to have ripple effects in the community and sheds light on the lack of communication and digital self-service options for your community.
Negative Civic Experiences
Unfortunately, experiences like the one above are common, especially in the digital era when residents expect to find the information they're looking for quickly and efficiently. Negative civic experiences can lead to lost revenue opportunities from parks and rec classes, permits, licenses, or participation in public meetings and town halls. However, when it's easy for residents to interact with their local government with positive experiences, it builds trust and continued engagement.
Creating Positive Civic Experiences
As technology continues to develop, your community will continue to increase their expectations to handle business and learn about what is going on in their community digitally. To meet these expectations, local governments need to implement digital solutions that alleviate staff workflows and benefit the community.
How would the earlier scenario look with innovative tools built specifically to help local governments communicate and operate?
- After reading the news blurb about the inoperable vehicle ordinance, your resident would have visited your local government website, which is developed to be easy to manage and edit. From there, they would see your up-to-date community calendar, which includes the public meeting's date, time, and location. On the calendar event, there would also be a link to the public meeting agenda located in your meeting and agenda portal.
- After easily finding the answers your resident was looking for, they were able to learn their local government live-streams public meetings, as well as host them in person. Your resident joins the meeting virtually, learns about the ordinance's reasoning, and agrees with the council it should be enacted. After the meeting, they visit your website again and navigate to the meeting and agenda portal to read the minutes, view the recorded meeting, as well as see the proposed legislation.
- During the meeting, the resident learns about the city's online code-hosting platform, which allows the resident to sign up for personalized notifications about the local laws. Your resident signs up to learn when the inoperable vehicle ordinance is enacted, so they can properly handle the vehicle in their driveway.
The interactions above highlight the importance of digital self-service tools for residents in your community. While your residents search for answers and interact with the local government digitally, your staff can continue to conduct business as usual without fielding calls, visits into city hall, and handling unhappy residents. Creating frictionless interactions not only improves your staff's workflow and adds valuable time back into their day, but it also increases positive civic experiences for your community. If you're interested in learning where your administration is on the digital transformation spectrum, take our ten-question assessment.