Local government change-makers seem to have one common personality trait- the desire to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. The endearing commonality is what drives community success and resilience, and with the advent of digital transformation, there may be opportunities to achieve that like never before.
With this in mind, Rock Solid developed a comprehensive report covering 9 Trends in Citizen Engagement for Local Government in 2023. Intended to inspire actionable citizen engagement plans, this report highlights actual examples of other cities across the United States being early adopters of key trends sure to impact many more local governments in the near future.
With some of these trends coming to light with recent current events, we thought we’d uncover some use cases and examples for Trend 3: Leveraging Technology to Solve Greater Challenges beginning with how Puerto Rico built resilience and aided their community with government solutions during Hurricane Fiona.
1. Maintaining Resiliency in the Aftermath of Hurricane Fiona
As one may expect, Hurricane Fiona brought many challenges and damages to citizens in Puerto Rico. The community needed access to public service requests in the aftermath of the natural disaster, some of which included cleaning services (landslides, ditches, ravines), access to drinking water, emergency responses, food vouchers, etc. The community utilized a government CRM (Constituent Relationship Manager), OneView, to submit public service requests relating to the disaster. With the solution, municipalities in Puerto Rico were able to target assistance to the areas with the highest demand of requests. The CRM’s 311 feature aided residents in submitting requests and allowed municipalities to track where the incident occurred to resolve the issue, a key functionality of the solution.
What’s, even more, Puerto Rico Municipalities could then generate a complete report of the cases created by their community after the disaster, using a functionality developed with the purpose of creating analytical reports to obtain the information requested by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).
Though natural disasters have an incredibly damaging impact, there are ways that government solutions can help assist communities to maintain resiliency and access the services they need just like Puerto Rico did in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona.
The city of Dublin, OH utilized a similar sort of best practice in regard to COVID-19 and sharing public health information with constituents.
2. Dublin, Oh Uses Mobile Communication to Empower Constituents with COVID-19 Information
The pandemic brought about uncertainty and people everywhere desired the need for accurate information regarding CDC guidelines and stay-at-home orders. Municipalities were faced with the challenge of spreading accurate information and providing COVID-19 resources to their constituents, and cities like Dublin, OH turned to technology for the answer.
The city took an Omni-platform approach to stay in touch with the community regarding information surrounding the pandemic. Mobile communication was a key component of the initiative, says Lindsay Weisenauer, Public Affairs Officer for the City of Dublin.
“All of our communication platforms are mobile-friendly, and everything we do is geared toward mobile all the time because that’s where many of our residents access information. Our GoDublin app is a portal for residents to seek information, request services, and read updated, trustworthy news sources. We are integrating [the app] into most City operations.
We regularly update our website, Alexa Skill (a daily news brief for Alexa devices), and social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Nextdoor, and Instagram. We also added a ‘CORONAVIRUS’ button to our GoDublin app.”
Essentially, the city was utilizing the same CRM as Puerto Rico municipalities, OneView, but used a derivative of the platform, a mobile engagement app [OneLink] branded as Dublin, to communicate covid information in a simple app format.
The button [in the GoDublin mobile app] took constituents to the main Coranavirus information page with video updates, the latest Coronavirus news, resources, closures and cancellations, and a place to submit questions or concerns. The app also had guidelines for parks around the city and links to external Coronavirus resources (like Public Health, FAQs, and the CDC).
By utilizing a channel that residents were at, the city was able to submit accurate information during a time of uncertainty and give constituents the resources they needed.
The city of Escondido, CA utilized the same government solution [OneView] but the result ended in a different way that benefited their community.
3. How Escondido, CA Preserved Community Pride
A pain point for many communities is graffiti and vandalism, it’s costly, destructive, and damages a community- also an indicator of criminal activity.
The city of Escondido, CA, had seen a stunning surge in graffiti, with city crews eradicating over 72,000 tags in 2018 and 2019 alone. To take back the community from gangs and tagging crews, they needed an efficient solution to deal with the sheer volume of graffiti but do so affordably. They turned to a custom mobile app [OneLink] integrating service requests with its infrastructure management platform to facilitate work orders. Now, graffiti barely lasts a day.
The government solution operates in very nearly real-time, according to Jake Nyberg, Deputy Director of Public works:
“It gives us the flexibility to dispatch whoever is closest to the graffiti tag or the person who has the right color of paint to cover it or the right tools to do a larger job. The data also allows us to run reports to better plan for staffing needs and accurately budget for materials.”
Through the use of technology and cross-departmental teamwork between public works, information systems, and communications as well as robust community engagement, the city lowered response times to cover graffiti tags from days to hours, if not minutes. Their efforts also resulted in the city of Escondido receiving three prestigious awards for the Graffiti Eradication Program.
We know local government leaders care about the betterment of their community, or else they probably wouldn’t be in the industry of serving communities! Looking toward the future- challenges in communities require solutions that empower constituents and city staff to maintain resiliency during times of distress. The full 9 Trends in Citizen Engagement for Local Government in 2023 features other various trends to expect in the next year, along with use cases such as ones like Puerto Rico, Dublin, OH, Escondido, CA, and many other of your neighbors to inspire informed citizen engagement planning.