How Local Government Can Give Constituents a Modern, Mobile Experience

ARTICLE | Mar 19, 2019

Government is challenged to match the market-driven nature of consumer technology

by Doug Rogers, Senior Vice President, NIC Inc.

Over the last decade, as mobile phones have gotten “smarter,” citizens increasingly have become attached to and reliant on them. It’s not uncommon to hear people say, “My life is in that phone.”

Smartphones host favorite apps that reflect users’ interests and regular activities, hold precious photos and give users instant access to personal connections and limitless information. Their devices know them and deliver, literally at the consumer’s fingertips, the information needed to make purchase decisions or conduct other business.

E-commerce is expected to become the largest retail channel in the world by 2021. A consumer looking for gear with a favorite team’s logo, a robot vacuum or the barbecue sauce they fell in love with while on vacation can quickly find those products online and compare prices and features of similar items from multiple sellers. With a mere couple of clicks, the consumer can make purchases and arrange to have the procured goods delivered to the front door.

People shop and interact digitally because doing so is simple. Easy-to-navigate and easy-to-complete experiences have profoundly changed people’s expectations of every transaction, no matter who they are interacting with digitally.

This technology revolution, catapulted by smartphones’ ubiquity and computing power, has fueled the evolution of the digital consumer and made transactions increasingly horizontal. Consumer-facing organizations are empowered with digital marketing tools to proactively notify a customer about sales, new products or items that might be of interest based on the consumer’s past online behaviors. Armed with a mobile device, the customer is enabled to spontaneously transact a direct purchase from the retailer, anywhere and at any time of day.

Not surprisingly, citizens have come to expect their interactions with government to look very much the same.

Government, too, has more digital tools at its fingertips than ever before, but local governments often face inadequate funding, lack of qualified staff and other obstacles. They therefore are challenged to match the market-driven nature of consumer technology.

When citizens try to complete transactions with local government, they may be met with less-than-modern technology and inefficient experiences. They may not remember or have a way to be reminded about their annual government responsibilities, may not know which agency to interact with to fulfill each one and may have difficulty navigating government websites to find the information they need.

In short, local government needs to find ways to advance technology at the speed of constituent expectations.

The shift to a digital government mindset

Local government leaders generally understand the mindset shift needed to make their services available through the devices people use and deliver the experiences people want. A Gartner survey revealed that 18 percent of CIOs across all levels of government have prioritized digital initiatives in 2019 as key to achieving mission outcomes.

In some cases, government leaders have attempted to move toward a digital model by developing branded apps for their counties or cities. While this implementation format reflects how government is structured and funded, it does not respond to consumer expectations.

Citizens are not accustomed to distinguishing between city and county governance or between county and state jurisdictions. The most effective digital government strategy is not siloed, but designed around citizens, who want and expect aggregated city, county and state government interactions.

As Gartner has stated, the path to “digital government will be measured by a reduction in the number of discrete services in favor of an integrated experience.” The firm describes the fully digital stage as one in which data is leveraged regularly across agency boundaries, resulting in easier citizen interactions that are based on an understanding of the constituent’s context and situation.

An enterprise-oriented strategy automates and mobilizes citizen responsibilities. It provides the same end-to-end experience consumers are used to, getting to “know” them based on their past transactions. It gives them access to a single platform that reminds them of their government responsibilities, seamlessly routes their requests to the right agency, identifies and locates information or forms they need to complete and answers their questions along the way.

Aligning service delivery with constituent expectations

Modernizing government requires more than a few mobile apps. NIC Inc.’s Gov2Go is the first platform in the nation that fulfills the need for an enterprise-oriented strategy. Serving as a citizen’s personal assistant for government, this user profile-based system is built around the preferences and needs of individual constituents. It learns about a citizen’s interactions with all levels of government, tracks those interactions in a user-friendly interface, notifies the citizen of the upcoming deadlines for tasks like property tax payments and vehicle registrations, and completes the transactions using one-click payments.

Gov2Go makes government available through an experience, consumers already recognize and are comfortable with, without requiring them to understand the structure of government. The platform knits together inter-jurisdictional requirements and, using the constituent’s individual profile information, leverages personal technology to curate and present the information the customer needs. Citizens benefit by being able to interact with government as a whole, rather than having to complete required responsibilities agency by agency.

Deployment of Gov2Go in Colorado is a good example of how this works. Since mid-2018, Colorado citizens have been able to “skip the trip” to the DMV and instead renew their vehicle tags through Gov2Go from the convenience of their mobile phones.

Before the state and numerous counties rolled out Gov2Go, DMV offices statewide were packed with people waiting to complete their vehicle registrations. Gov2Go users now receive reminders via text or email so they no longer have to remember renewal dates. They can use their phones to renew anytime and anywhere, with just a couple of clicks, using the payment information they have stored in Gov2Go.

Colorado’s Gov2Go Vehicle Registration Renewal service increased adoption by 26.8 percent in fourth quarter 2018 as measured by the number of new subscribers.

Gov2Go makes it easier for Coloradoans to interact with all levels of government. The technology platform aggregates services across state and local jurisdictions so citizens do not have to specifically understand which branch or level of government they are interacting with to complete their transactions. Gov2Go also helps citizens stay on top of voter and election information, receive Amber Alerts and purchase digital passes for select federal parks. Other services are in development.

Participating counties can set up additional notifications tailored to provide efficiency and value for their citizens. One county, for example, may soon use Gov2Go to notify users when their property taxes are due and provide information about where citizens can go to make their payments.

Gov2Go delivers citizen satisfaction

Helping people stay compliant with their government responsibilities and better navigate their interactions with government is not only good for constituents; it also is good for government. Using Gov2Go, local governments will realize greater constituent satisfaction. And, as opposed to agency-specific mobile apps that can be expensive both to develop and maintain, Gov2Go uses a self-funded structure that enables affordable implementation and sustainability. Municipal agencies can simply and quickly migrate their services to the platform without having to hire developers or other new staff. NIC provides customer and agency support, and the platform can customize the user experience for every citizen.

In the continuing fast pace of the technology revolution, government will succeed through enterprise-wide planning and execution. Gov2Go helps make important inter-agency connections so government can leverage limited resources to strategically deliver services at the speed of constituent expectations. Gov2Go is the place to start when you want to provide a modern government experience.

About NIC and Gov2Go

NIC Inc. is the nation’s premier provider of innovative digital government and secure payment processing solutions for more than 6,000 local, state and federal agencies across the United States.

Gov2Go is the nation’s first personal assistant for government. It learns about a person’s civic responsibilities, tracks those interactions, notifies users about an upcoming renewal or payment, and offers thumbprint payment login and simple one-click payments to complete the transaction.

We are looking forward to seeing you all at TLG in Reno this year! Please come visit our booth located along Corporate Partner Avenue! To learn more about how NIC can help you deliver services through the devices your citizens use and deliver the experiences they want, visit egov.com/innovation/gov2go or email doug.rogers@egov.com.

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