3 Ways to Use Technology for Building Community Engagement and Trust
January 31, 2023 by Julie Breaux
City leaders face a balancing act between meeting the high demand for online services and providing an in-person level of guidance that creates an efficient and positive experience. Customers expect immediacy, crave self-sufficiency, and want 24/7 access to do business with local government. They still count on information to navigate the unique complexity in applying for permits and submitting plans for review. Incorrect application types or supporting document submissions hinder efficiencies and dampen the customer experience, so cities are implementing public sector-focused solutions to create that perfect balance. Here are three ways you can leverage emerging technologies and offer online services while building engagement and trust with your constituents.
1. Use Automated Intelligence to Guide Permitting Applicants
Just like a seasoned front-counter staff member can ask questions and suggest the right application, technology can help do the same thing.
One example is Decision Engine from Tyler Technologies. Through a simple interface, applicants answer straightforward questions that help them navigate through thousands of lines of an ordinance in minutes. Based on their answers, the results dynamically adjust to fit the appropriate outcome.
After implementing this solution, the city of Rancho Cordova, California, saw a 76% decrease in the wrong application types, saving time for their staff and making their customers very happy.
2. Make the Most of Virtual Meeting Technology
Allowing online applications, especially with automated guidance, is a great step. But if someone needs more assistance or if you want to discuss more complicated application types, leveraging a virtual meeting tool is a fantastic option.
There are a variety of virtual meeting platforms available; however, solutions are now available that can integrate seamlessly with your permitting software. With an integrated tool, like Tyler’s Virtual Sessions module for Enterprise Permitting & Licensing, staff and the public can easily launch meetings directly from the software. During a session, participants have instant access to relevant case data and can view and share relevant documents. Then a record of the meeting is stored within the application and can be accessed as needed.
Leveraging this type of technology means both the applicant and your staff can walk away from the meeting with confidence in knowing that the right application was submitted. But agencies don't have to stop there. Purpose-built virtual meeting tools for the permitting and planning process can also be leveraged to discuss plan review results and even to conduct remote virtual inspections.
3. Provide Clarity on When It's Time to Act
Applying for permits online is a big part of the battle, but most of the work comes after that initial intake. Have you ever received a phone call from a member of the public asking for a status update, only for you to remind them that you're waiting on something from them?
Communicating with applicants on the status of their projects and the next steps is critical. Utilizing an online portal, like Tyler’s Civic Access, that conveys this information and can direct the user to complete their upcoming tasks is a huge benefit. Sharing workflow progress is also key. While applicants do not always need the same level of detail your staff does, it can be helpful to show progress to date and what future actions to expect. This visibility helps to create clear expectations of the process and timeline for reaching important milestones.
After launching their Enterprise Permitting & Licensing software with the customer-facing Civic Access online portal, the city of Henderson, Nevada, experienced a 24-hour decrease in citizen wait time for consecutive inspections. By improving permit efficiency, Henderson was able to keep up with increased customer demands without needing to add additional staff.
As communities grow and the demand for online services grows with it – municipalities will need to find that balance between technology and the in-person like services. Utilizing new technology and online tools can make operations more efficient, information and services more accessible, and communities more connected, across departments and with the constituents they serve. Learn more in this Local Government's Guide to Digital Community Development.