5 Things Innovative States and Cities Have in Common

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For starters, they prioritize digital experiences.

Today’s most innovative states and cities have one major thing in common: their view of digital. They view their digital platform as the most important tool for communicating with and serving their citizens. To them, digital technologies are enablers, offering up new ways to engage citizens previously disconnected to government, whether it’s an app to report potholes or unified digital brand across all of their web properties. 

Government agencies like the states of Georgia and Colorado and the city of Los Angeles are paving the way for other agencies looking to embrace digital transformation and develop new communication channels with digitally savvy citizens. These organizations are working to improve customer service by providing a digital hub that serves as the primary information and services portal for their citizens. 

There are five key ingredients these organizations share that enable them to stay on the forefront of digital innovation and continually provide citizens with exceptional digital experiences. 

Managed Cloud Platform

When Georgia moved to a managed cloud platform, their internal IT team was finally able to focus on real growth and innovation. In addition to relieving their internal IT team from the burdens of provisioning and managing servers, Georgia was able to realize $4.7 million in savings. 

“Experts can monitor our platform and servers 24/7, providing recommendations to updates and changes if needed at a moment’s notice,” said Nikhil Deshpande of the Georgia Technology Authority. “We have had some issues with DDoS attacks, where Acquia was able to bring our websites back up and running in a fraction of the time compared to other state government websites, who experienced the same attacks. The Acquia Cloud gives us room to continue to grow without hesitation or fear of hosting size and limitations.”  

It’s not enough to simply “host” in the cloud. Instead, your organization needs a managed cloud platform that significantly offloads the operations, information security and change control burden from your IT team, freeing them up to focus on serving the mission and your users. 

Open Source

Open source is quickly gaining notoriety, and it’s recommended as part of several memorandums and policies, including the CIO Playbook. But that’s not why agencies should adopt open source. 

Open source technology is continually refined and iterated upon by the communities that support it, with the best iteration naturally dominating.  Open source technologies such as Linux, Apache and Drupal have the support of thousands of developers working to improve code every day. These communities are made up of diverse members around the globe and result in projects that are more robust, adaptable, resilient and secure.

Omnichannel

Omnichannel is the ability to interact with your consumers wherever they are, on any device, at any time. And citizens are no longer giving government a free pass for not providing the same caliber experience as the private sector. As consumers increasingly live in a mobile-first, digitally connected world, it’s going to become critical for governments to make services readily accessible through multiple device types enabling citizens to access them anytime and anywhere. Today it's tablets and mobile devices; tomorrow it may be a watch. In five years? Who knows. Your omnichannel strategies should ensure you’ll be prepared for what comes.

Personalization

The public sector has been slow to adopt personalization technologies; government is particularly careful and sensitive about protecting personally identifiable information (PII), and rightly so. However, basic personalization techniques can connect citizens with precisely the information they need, when they need it, while still protecting PII. Wouldn’t homeowners in a hurricane region benefit from relevant, timely information on a government emergency preparedness website?  

Personalization has been a tried-and-true strategy in the private sector for years. Retailers have seen increase in conversion rates by presenting customers with relevant products. Media companies have seen increased engagement by giving consumers content they know they will like. As citizens see the benefits of personalization in the private sector, these expectations will begin to carry over to their interactions with the digital government.  

A Cutting Edge Tech Culture 

The final, but perhaps the most crucial, ingredient is the one woven into the fabric of the organization itself: culture. Successful digital transformation efforts require shared goals and collaboration across IT, executive leadership, external affairs, procurement, and project management teams. All of these distinct groups must work together to execute on the mission of a government agency: providing information and services to citizens.

Regardless of whether you’re a large federal agency, or a small local one, by focusing your own agency roadmap on cultivating a culture focused on cutting-edge technology around cloud, open source, omnichannel and personalization, you can create new and innovative ways to reach citizens and move your mission forward.

Todd Akers is Vice President of the Public Sector at Acquia. 

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