Recently, we looked at a few U.S. cities that are on the forefront of eGovernment innovation. These award-winning digital governments, including Los Angeles, Durham, and Virginia Beach, are innovating their governments to be more user-friendly and accessible for their constituents.
What is eGovernment?
eGovernment or egov (short for electronic government) is a trend that is being driven both internally by government entities looking to improve efficiency and costs and externally by citizens demanding the same level of digital access to services as they receive from just about every other part of their technological-driven lives. These cities, along with other innovative cities, have been successful by implementing eGovernment best practices.
Local governments that strategically move toward an open government model achieve tremendous benefits. Open government means they provide more transparency and accountability as demonstrated by Virginia Beach, Durham, and Roanoke. This method of governance reduces the amount of government corruption, bribery, and other misdeeds. Open government makes more data sets and meeting minutes available to the public, which increases business investment by reducing the unknown. Communities become more knowledgeable thanks to the dissemination of information. To make the data useful, it should follow key open data principles, such as offering data that is complete, primary, timely, accessible, machine-processable, non-discriminatory, non-proprietary and license-fee.
Open government has become possible thanks to the advent of digital transformation. Moving analog processes and paper records towards digital formats reduces costs and makes information accessible. An analysis by McKinsey says that the operational and cost benefits by governments implementing digital transformation could free up over a trillion dollars worldwide on an annual basis. Governments can’t do it alone and need to develop private and public partnerships to accomplish these hefty and transformative goals. For example, San Francisco teamed up with Twitter to create @SF311, which allows the public to tweet if they see something that needs to be fixed, like a pothole.
Analytics and Metrics
A few of these leading governments are pushing themselves to hold their cities accountable. This means publishing statistics and metrics so constituents can see the current status of everything; from wait times for driver licenses to how long it takes to receive a building permit. To provide these analytics takes desire but it also requires technical staff. Los Angeles is aggressively recruiting at hackathons and developing partnerships with local universities to increase its data analytics capability.
A Citizen-Centric Culture
Digital transformation efforts won’t succeed without getting existing teams to change their perspective from inward to outward. One way to change the culture is connect with the desired audience. Make it easy for them to schedule an appointment online so they don’t have to wait in line. Another opportunity is website redesign. Since a government website is the primary connection between governments and citizens, it makes sense to reach out to constituents when doing a website redesign effort. Asking citizens to participate will improve the end result but will also allow employees who don’t normally interact with the public, the opportunity to see the impact they are making for their customers. This awareness can be a powerful first step in building an organizational culture that is receptive to change – and is key to implementing eGovernment initiatives.
Just about every local government is moving towards converting analog processes to digital. Some are faster than others. By following these key recommendations, your local government can overcome analog challenges and deliver an exceptional digital experience to your constituents.