A virtual city hall (VCH) is an online platform that allows government officials and citizens to communicate with each other, facilitating community engagement. This type of platform can be used for a variety of purposes, including providing information about city services, answering questions from citizens, and collecting feedback from the community.
One of the main benefits of a virtual city hall is that it saves time and money for both government officials and citizens. But how, exactly, does it do that? Let’s look at some of the ways virtual city halls can increase efficiency and reduce costs for local governments.
1. Increased accessibility for citizens
A virtual city hall can make it easier for citizens to access government services and information by providing 24/7 access and eliminating the need to travel to a physical location. This means citizens can access more services across a wider range of hours (which is particularly helpful when they are unable to visit during regular business hours), without the city hall needing to hire extra staff to accommodate the change.
For example, if a citizen has a question or wants to submit a permit request, they can simply log onto the virtual city hall and find the answer quickly and easily. In contrast, if they had to call or visit their local government office in person, they would likely have to wait on hold for a long time or even make an appointment.
2. Improved communication between government and citizens
A virtual city hall provides a platform for two-way dialogue and allows residents to provide feedback on government services. This means government officials and employees are able to quickly and easily communicate with citizens without having to hold in-person meetings or events.
This reduces the need for travel and other expenses associated with in-person interactions, along with the associated labor costs. Since employees no longer need to be present for as many meetings, they have more uninterrupted time to focus on their work.
3. Improved efficiency of government operations
A virtual city hall can improve the efficiency of government operations by streamlining processes and reducing the need for paper-based records.
It does this in part by allowing citizens to access city hall services online. This means that they can fill out forms, submit payments, and track the status of their requests all without having to come into the physical building. This in turn means municipal governments don't have to process as many paper documents.
Similarly, virtual city halls reduce employee workload by storing documents electronically. This means that city hall employees can access them from any computer with an internet connection, and documents don't have to be printed out each time someone needs to use them. This saves office supplies of course, but also it reduces the time it would take to print, file, distribute, or find physical copies of documents.
Expanding on the communication point mentioned above, virtual city halls can provide useful features like automated notifications, so citizens can receive updates on their cases (from permits to fines and more) automatically via SMS or email, whenever there is a relevant change.
4. Automated processes and workflows
On the topic of automation, digitizing local government work doesn’t stop at notifications: moving city call processes online can lift a huge burden from your budget. When resources are tight, automation can go a long way, and that is especially true for any simple recurring tasks you deal with.
From handling permit applications and processing fines to optimizing your agenda, a virtual city hall enables you to take slow, mundane workflows and turn them into streamlined, automatic processes, so employees can concentrate on making an impact. That means less paperwork, less burnout, and a more productive team.
5. Enhanced security of government data
A virtual city hall can enhance your security by storing information in a secure online environment and providing authorized users with access controls. With all your data and documents in secure cloud storage, you don’t have to worry about losing important files, or documents getting damaged or stolen.
Leading VCH systems like 3Di use Amazon Web Services (AWS) encryption and other security measures to protect your data from unauthorized access, so you can easily control who has access to a given file. This added security helps to ensure that only authorized personnel can access sensitive data, and reduce the financial and legal risks of unsecured data.
Want to learn more about how 3Di can make your government more efficient and improve your workflows — saving you and your employees time and money? Learn more about finding the right citizen engagement software with our free guide.