Inspired Communities Operate Virtually
September 17, 2020 by
Governments of all sizes have been propelled into offering constituents new and different ways to conduct public business online. While this is a necessity in a COVID-19 context, it also extends government’s reach and improves service delivery and citizen engagement. Internally, building a digital foundation for virtual solutions provides governments with cost-saving efficiencies as well as the agility necessary to be sustainable and successful into the future.
“The convenience of online access and the range of city services that can be utilized is something all local governments should be interested in bringing to their customers and residents,” said Rick Usher, assistant city manager of Kansas City, Missouri. Inspiring local governments are already paving the way. The following exemplar communities are implementing virtual solutions and realizing these benefits in ways that are scalable and replicable.
- In El Cajon, California, leaders implemented a citizen self service web portal for community development. This allows residents and contractors to apply for permits or do business with the city from anywhere at any time. The virtual process enables users to search for an address, apply for a permit, request an inspection, and pay invoices entirely online. The new software moved the city from a paper environment to a completely virtual one in just 30 days. And, important in an environment of uncertain revenue, El Cajon processed more than $200,000 in online permit and plan fees in the portal’s first six weeks of operation.
- Olathe, Kansas, fast-tracked digital transformation by shifting from paper permits to virtual ones at the onset of COVID-19. The city mandated that all residential permit applications be submitted online. This early move allowed the city to rethink its business model to include additional virtual processes throughout all business operations.
- Henderson, Nevada, implemented software to facilitate online permit management through its citizen self service portal, taking guidance from its most frequent customers to fully meet their needs. More than 14,000 permits have been submitted online since the software launch, and more than 90% of subcontractor registrations now come in online. This saves permit customers significant time and money while allowing employees to keep up with increased demand at existing staffing levels.
Leveraging software that allows citizens to remain connected to the community development process is particularly important to allowing businesses and residents to continue normal operations from the safety of remote locations. In fact, there is a distinct opportunity available to local governments who implement new online solutions during this time.
By operating virtually, local governments are building the foundation of flexibility to continue operations efficiently in more normal times as well as when faced with the next great obstacle.