Client Profile: Moose Jaw, SK
Situated on the Trans-Canada highway just west of Saskatchewan’s capital lies a city so notorious it’s rumored Al Capone once spent considerable time hiding out in its underground tunnels. Since the early 1900s, the city of Moose Jaw has amassed significant notoriety through mention in movies and TV shows like “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “The Simpsons,” as well as a well-documented feud with Stor-Elvdal, Norway, over the world’s tallest moose statue (spoiler alert: the two cities have since called a truce).
While residents and tourists continue to find charm in its rich history, today the city of Moose Jaw is more than notorious; it’s notoriously redefined — starting with the way its citizens think of and interact with their local government.
More Than They Expected
Local government software needs are unique and often vary from city to city. A system that works for a community with a small local population may not be the right fit for an area with heavy winter tourism. This, coupled with budgetary constraints, often leads to the development of homegrown, customized systems. Such was the case with Moose Jaw’s issue reporting platform.
At the time it was built in 2010, it met the city’s basic requirements; it allowed staff to maintain a record of current and resolved issues. But, as the technology aged and Moose Jaw’s processes evolved, the pain points were clear.
“Our in-house system didn’t meet the needs of our staff or residents,” said Wade McKay, director of IT. “It was electronic, but it was very basic. Residents still had to call or email city hall to get a problem reported. They had no direct access to it, and we had no real way to track tickets or how often an issue was being reported. That was a huge problem.”
With the support of Moose Jaw’s council members, McKay began the search for a new, modern issue reporting system that could meet the needs of the city’s residents, staff, and stakeholders. The solution he found offered much more.
“We demoed several different systems and MyCivic™ came out on top,” McKay said. “I didn’t come into this looking for a full-featured app. A lot of products met the minimum request for service, but the other app features within MyCivic really set it apart from the competition. It was an easy decision.”
Community Engagement Reimagined
During the four-month period from the purchase of MyCivic to the launch of their app, staff at the city of Moose Jaw spent time thoughtfully evaluating how this new tool could best provide value. First, they looked at their website analytics to determine usage behavior and items of interest. Then, leveraging the MyCivic CMS, they customized the app to put sought-after information like online recreation and a city council directory at residents’ fingertips.
MyCivic has not only gone a long way in increasing our communication with residents, but it has helped change the image of municipal government being slow to respond and not very technologically advanced. The bang for your buck is off the charts. We couldn’t be happier with it.
Director of IT, City of Moose Jaw, SK
As the release date of the app approached, the staff had more decisions to make. They were in the process of developing a new website. Should they launch the two separately or would it make a bigger splash to unveil them together?
“To start, we had separate timelines for the app and the website,” said Craig Hemingway, communications manager. “We were also changing our logo, our slogan, and our colors. It hit a point where it made the most sense to tie everything together. This way we were able to promote it all at once.”
Their promotional efforts seem to have paid off. With more than 1,500 downloads in the first three months, the city has unleashed a new way to engage its citizens — something that has been particularly beneficial during unexpected challenges.
“We launched the app just as COVID-19 was hitting,” McKay said. “We were able to quickly put a link on the app home screen directing to our website. We keep all relevant information updated there, so it’s very easy for residents to see the impact on the city and specific services.”
The city also uses the app to send push notifications informing the public of closures, road work, and other emergencies. And, when it comes to issue reporting, McKay said MyCivic has delivered everything he was looking for. Unlike the city’s previous system, MyCivic ensures requests are received in a timely manner, allows field staff to input notes and resolutions without traveling back to city hall, and keeps residents informed of issue status throughout the process.
“This app has increased visibility immensely,” he said. “Issues don’t get lost or left open forever anymore and it gives our residents a level of communication that was unheard of even a year ago. It’s a game-changer not just for issue reporting, but for the image of our city in general.”