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Is Your City Ready for Extreme Weather Events?

Rajiv Desai | June 5, 2023

4 Minute Read

Extreme weather events are happening more frequently, even in areas previously considered safe. What if your city is next? Is your government prepared to respond to an influx of urgent service requests when it happens?

Extreme weather such as snowstorms, floods, and hurricanes can have a disastrous impact on cities and their residents. In these situations, service requests often spike, and your government's ability to respond effectively is put to the test. From shelter services and food provisions to evacuation assistance, a prompt and effective response here can be the difference between life and death for residents.

Even without immediate threat to life or limb, an efficient and visible government response can demonstrate to the public that their government is well-run — whether that’s snowplows in the streets or maintenance crews quickly restoring power. When done right, this builds trust and confidence within the community. But how prepared is your city for these events?

The Importance of Responsive Service Request Management

In a widespread event like a snowstorm, it affects everyone, so more people need assistance at the same time. These requests can range from snow removal and road closures to power outages and property damage. A responsive government will not only be able to address incoming requests, but can take a proactive and professional approach that inspires confidence and security among the public.

In these situations, local governments need to:

  • Prioritize and respond to requests efficiently
  • Keep residents informed about ongoing efforts
  • Allocate resources effectively to address the most pressing concerns
  • Proactively aim to help disadvantaged or elderly residents often hit hardest by these events

By improving service request responsiveness, governments can build trust within the community and demonstrate that they are committed to keeping residents safe and informed during potentially dire circumstances.

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Service Request Response Is Different Everywhere

You can’t just copy the playbook of a city with exemplary service response practices. Service request management can differ significantly from one state to another, and from one city to another.

For starters, some of the factors that can influence the scope and size of a service request management program include:

  • Population size and density
  • Geographic location and susceptibility to different types of extreme weather events
  • Available resources, such as personnel and equipment
  • Existing infrastructure and its ability to withstand extreme weather conditions

You’ll need to assess your municipality’s unique needs and challenges to develop a tailored and modern approach to service request management. This will ensure that you’re prepared to handle the demands of any extreme weather event that may occur.

Preparing Your City for Extreme Weather: A Step-by-Step Approach

  1. Assess your city's unique needs and challenges: Analyze factors such as population size, geographic location, and available resources to determine your city's specific service request management requirements. Reporting & analytics tools can help identify trends and areas that require more attention, enabling better resource allocation during extreme weather.
  2. Develop a tailored service request management strategy: Based on your city's unique needs, create a strategy that prioritizes and responds to service requests efficiently and effectively during extreme weather events. Workflow management solutions can streamline request resolution processes with automation, task routing, and role-based actions, ensuring that the right resources are allocated to each request.
  3. Choose a comprehensive software provider: Select a provider that offers solutions like a personalized citizen portal, citizen relationship management (CRM), a mobile field app, workflow management capability, and reporting & analytics tools to ensure comprehensive and efficient service request management.
  4. Implement the software solution: Work closely with your chosen software provider to ensure a smooth implementation process, integrating the platform with your city's existing systems and training your team on its use. A solution with flexible integrations will allow you to retain existing systems and more easily collaborate across departments, creating a seamless experience for all stakeholders.
  5. Test and refine your strategy: Conduct simulations or drills to test your city's preparedness for extreme weather events, identifying areas for improvement and making necessary adjustments to your service request management strategy. Try using tools like a mobile field app during these tests to empower department staff to manage and respond to requests from the field more quickly and effectively.
  6. Establish clear communication channels: Ensure that residents know how to report service requests during extreme weather events and that they are kept informed about ongoing response efforts. A personalized citizen portal provides an easy-to-use platform for residents to make and manage requests, while a CRM will let you track requests, communications, and send out notifications across multiple channels.
  7. Monitor progress and make data-driven decisions: Leverage the real-time data provided by your software platform's reporting & analytics feature to monitor progress, adjust strategies as needed, and make informed decisions during extreme weather events.
  8. Evaluate and learn from past events: After an extreme weather event, review your city's response efforts to identify successes and areas for improvement. Use the reporting & analytics feature to gather insights and inform proactive decision-making, refining your service request management strategy and better preparing for future events.

Partnering with the Right Software Provider

To effectively manage service requests during extreme weather events, local governments will perform best when they work with a software provider who can connect all stakeholders within a city.

This includes emergency management teams, public works departments, utilities, and other relevant agencies. By choosing a software provider that can seamlessly bring these stakeholders together, local governments can:

  • Streamline communication between departments and agencies
  • Access real-time data to inform decision-making
  • Monitor progress and adjust strategies as needed
  • Ensure that all relevant parties are working together efficiently

When evaluating software providers, consider the following:

  • Integration capabilities: Ensure that the software can integrate with your city's existing systems and connect with all relevant stakeholders.
  • Scalability: Choose a software provider that can grow with you from wherever you are, whether you have a small population or a sprawling metropolis.
  • Customizability: Opt for a software solution that can be tailored to your city's specific requirements, including unique workflows and processes.
  • Ease of use: Select a software provider that offers an intuitive, user-friendly platform to minimize the learning curve and encourage widespread adoption from employees and citizens alike.
  • Support and training: Work with a software provider that provides ongoing support and training to help your team make the most of the platform and ensure a smooth implementation process. 

For more detailed guidance on moving forward with the right engagement software, download our free citizen engagement software guide.

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