Local governments today face countless new challenges, from public safety issues and insufficient resources, to misinformation and data security concerns. A purpose-driven government technology roadmap can address these challenges by allowing staff to do more with less, engaging residents more effectively, and helping prove your accountability to the community:
- Embracing technology enables you to enhance the accessibility of information, facilitating transparency and accountability, and ensuring the public stays informed and engaged.
- Modern technology allows for easier collaboration between staff, the community, and other stakeholders, fostering an inclusive environment that encourages active participation.
- By reducing manual tasks and automating data flows, local governments can allocate resources more effectively and better serve their communities.
This much might be apparent to most local governments, but what’s less clear is how to get started. That’s why we’ve created this guide, to help you build your roadmap for a technology-enabled government.
1. Assess Your Current Stage of Digital Transformation
Conducting a technology audit will help identify outdated systems or inefficiencies and determine your organization's current stage in the digital transformation journey.
To get an idea of where you stand today, consider where you fall on the three main stages of digital transformation:
Stage 1 - Digital Access
At this stage, governments use software and telecommunication technologies for the digital delivery of information and services. This stage mainly revolves around creating digital access points for constituents. Examples include websites, web applications, and digital records.
Stage 2 - Platforms & Innovation
The second stage involves leveraging cloud-based platforms that enable transactions between service providers and service consumers across various service channels, such as web, mobile, and virtual agents. This stage focuses on creating innovative and accessible platforms for seamless service delivery. A solution platform might be a Virtual City Hall, where multiple applications can live in the same place — from citizen portals and alert systems to permit management and code enforcement.
A key advantage of platform solutions is their “future proof” nature: they can easily be updated at a low cost, making it easy to adopt new technologies as they arise. For instance, many governments have already begun to incorporate automation in their platforms.
Stage 3 - Automation
At this emergent stage, local governments automate services using advanced technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML). This stage aims to create highly efficient and connected communities by providing automated and predictive services.
This stage creates a hyperconnected society with predictive services that can proactively address issues, such as predictive maintenance for public infrastructure, “smart” traffic management systems, and reporting tools that can predict which aspects of the community will be most in need of resources.
2. Develop a Clear Digital Strategy
Align your digital strategy with your organization's mission and goals, ensuring that technology initiatives, like implementing a new citizen engagement platform, directly contribute to your objectives.
This can seem overwhelming if your team isn’t sure where to start, but a good technology partner will work with you to map out which solutions would be most effective.
3. Prioritize Projects and Initiatives
Choose projects that will have the most significant impact on improving processes and community engagement, like launching a mobile app for citizen reporting, or creating a public web portal to streamline permits or code enforcement.
4. Embrace Agile Project Management
To maximize the impact of new technologies, consider adopting agile methodologies to enhance flexibility and responsiveness to evolving community needs, such as quickly adapting to changes in public health guidelines during a pandemic.
5. Invest in Staff Training and Development
Ensure employees, like city planners or inspectors, are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively utilize new technologies, like GIS mapping tools or advanced analytics software.
Some platform solutions (from Stage 2 above) are designed to be intuitive and user-friendly, and only require minimal training to use tools like these.
6. Automate Repetitive Tasks
Streamline processes by automating repetitive tasks, like license renewals or permit applications, freeing up staff for strategic initiatives and improving the overall constituent experience. With platform technologies, this requires minimal IT resources, and automation can often be set up by your software platform partner, making it easier to take your organization to Stage 3.
7. Consider Your Data Governance and Cybersecurity Policies
If you’re still in the first stage of the digital transformation process, your security might not be as strong as it needs to be. Start strengthening security practices to protect sensitive data and systems from threats, like implementing two-factor authentication for access to critical infrastructure or regularly updating firewalls and antivirus software.
Similarly, develop guidelines for data collection, storage, sharing, and disposal to ensure data integrity and compliance, such as securely handling sensitive information like citizen health records or financial data.
The right platform solution should have high security standards, and be compliant with the latest data safety standards (such as SOC 2 Type 2 certification), making most of this process much easier.
8. Monitor and Evaluate Progress
Set key performance indicators (KPIs), like the number of citizen complaints resolved or the rate of successful permit applications, to measure success and make adjustments as needed. Stage 2 solutions like a Virtual City Hall make it easy to view analytics and reporting on any metrics you choose to track.
Choosing the Right Solution for Digital Transformation
By following these principles and steps, your government can build a purpose-driven community technology roadmap that effectively engages your constituents, fosters trust, and promotes accountability.
Of course, these steps become much easier when you have an experienced technology partner to help build out your roadmap and guide you through the process. For instance, the City of Pico Rivera, California partnered with 3Di to help them transition from Stage 1 to Stage 2 (and lay the groundwork for Stage 3). See how they did it in this case study.