Bringing the right technology into your office can go a long way toward communicating more effectively with citizens, resolving problems more quickly, and building a stronger sense of public trust.
Below are some of the top ways government leaders at the state and local levels are leveraging technology to help public servants do their jobs more effectively and connect meaningfully with citizens.
1. Communication is Through Multiple Mediums
Every government office needs to communicate and engage with the citizens it serves. But the nature of that communication can vary drastically depending on whether you’re sending out an emergency weather warning, explaining a complicated new law, or simply gathering public input on where to build a new park.
Jason Briefel, director of government and public affairs at Shaw Bransford & Roth P.C., recommends starting any outreach campaign by considering the type of information shared and the purpose for sharing it. Social media is important, but paywalls, algorithms, and login requirements can prevent your message from reaching everyone.
“People seek information from different sources and have different levels of trust in different information sources,” he says. “Public officials can do things to build trust and connection to their channels before an incident occurs so that citizens are more likely to use and trust that source during an emergency.”
Those may include AM radio, virtual town halls, local networks of friends, and social media in addition to broadcast channels. For example, SMS, or text messaging, is a surefire way to get a lot of eyeballs and catch the attention of your constituents. While open rates for an email may be in the 20 percent range, text message open rates jump to the mid-90 percent range, says Scott Crosby, former chief of staff for a Missouri state senator, and now managing director at FiscalNote. On the other hand, less urgent situations might be more likely to rely on standard email communications and easy-to-use public websites.
2. AI is Solving a Range of Pain Points
During the pandemic, many government organizations flexed heavily into full-time remote work, enabling employees to continue delivering essential services. “This pivot … has sparked a transformation to bring technology even more central to how and where work gets done,” Briefel says.
But the pandemic also highlighted areas of weakness – including unemployment insurance systems that at times buckled under the stress of large numbers of filers. Government offices that effectively managed the surge were those that promptly updated their user interfaces with AI-supported chatbots, call centers, and more for handling repetitive, high-volume tasks.
AI can address a range of issues, from helping direct constituents to the right department for their queries to synthesizing meeting information. But the government, like the private sector, has yet to unfold all that AI has to offer.
3. Digital Investments are Focused on the Total Experience
Arthur Mickoleit, director analyst at Gartner, says decision-makers have an opportunity to find a balance between digital opportunities and risks.
“Government CIOs must demonstrate their digital investments aren’t just tactical in nature as they continue to improve service delivery and core mission impacts,” he says.
According to Gartner’s Top 10 Government Technology Trends for 2023, the areas driving the most impact this year are adaptive security, cloud-based legacy modernization, sovereign cloud, hyperautomation, AI for design intelligence, data sharing as a platform, composable government applications, total experience, digital identity ecosystems, and case management as a service.
4. It’s About Actionable Data
Today’s government offices are investing in technology that understands public sentiment and turns it into actionable data that can be shared with the right stakeholders.
“Citizens want to feel and believe government is responsive to their needs and interests,” Briefe says. “The worst thing that can be done is to collect feedback information and leave the public feeling like nothing is being done, no one is listening, and nothing is changing.”
By regularly including surveys in your newsletters, your office stands to gain organically collected data and increased opt-ins for your mailing lists. A CRM tool like Fireside automatically stores the collected data on the constituent’s profile, which can create more engagement between constituents and your office.
5. Innovation Goes Beyond Technology
“As technology evolves, government leaders have more options at their fingertips and may be able to spend less time on procurement to access cost-effective solutions that are faster to deploy and integrate,” says Luke Fretwell, an entrepreneur and writer focused on civics and technology.
But traditional RFPs, long-term contracts, and antiquated procurement processes can all stand in the way of introducing modern solutions. Flexibility around these old approaches can pave the way for the technology and culture change your office needs to better support your mission.
Once you decide to invest in new technologies, be sure to factor in workforce training and leadership, Briefel says. He recommends embedding staff training into budgets and vendor contracts. It’s also important to choose tools that have an intuitive user interface and make it easy to onboard and train new employees. “Fireside is user-friendly, laid out well, and it’s easy to understand how it works,” says the deputy district director of a North Carolina representative’s office.
6. Collaboration is Foundational to Success
Building a culture of openness and collaboration is foundational to helping your staff accomplish tasks more effectively and efficiently. “Composable government applications” that can work together are one of Gartner’s Top 10 Government Technology Trends for 2023. If you’ve struggled with merging data from different applications, it’s easy to understand why this is a problem.
For this, the solution can include adopting a diverse and integrated approach when selecting technology providers. Fretwell recommends steering away from vendors with monolithic offerings that favor the vendor and steer instead toward multiple vendors of solutions built to integrate the best components seamlessly.
A Platform Designed for State and Local Officials
Fireside was designed to help public officials free up time that could otherwise be spent solving problems and moving legislation forward. Fireside works like a personal assistant, simplifying the processes required to do your job. Learn more about how Fireside’s cohesive platform helps you both manage outreach and connect with constituents.
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