Presenting the Citizen-Engaged Communities for 2014–2016

PTI Staff Contact: Dale Bowen, 202-626-2456.

Public Technology Institute (PTI) is pleased to announce the city and county governments designated as Citizen-Engaged Communities for 2014–2016.

Five years ago, PTI created this annual designation program to recognize excellence in multi-channel contact centers and best practices for the use of Citizen Relationship/Records Management (CRM) systems, 311 services, web portal technology, telephony systems and mobile communications infrastructure.

Government contact centers have become the face of government to the public. Local governments are challenged today to provide centralized citizen contact centers that effectively utilize new technology for fast, friendly and responsive service. This seamless service must engage citizens through multi-channels, empower citizens by enabling direct interaction, and then demonstrate accountability through performance reporting, not just for calls but also for service delivery.

Every year local governments are invited to apply for designation. All applications are reviewed and scored using metrics and standards developed by PTI in four key areas for multi-channel contact centers:

  • Citizen Participation Processes
  • Integrated Communication Channels
  • Integrated Technology
  • Performance Reporting

This year especially, PTI recognizes the tremendous growth in the use of mobile and social media to engage the public, and the need for targeted data analytics to support better decision-making.

As a special note, when it comes to challenges and opportunities, PTI noted that all of the applications mentioned maintaining ongoing exceptional customer service with smaller than optimal staff, and retaining high quality employees to deliver service efficiently and effectively with budget constraints. PTI applauds the efforts of cities and counties all across the country who make exceptional customer service a priority during this difficult budget climate.

PTI proudly presents the 2014–2016 Citizen Engaged Communities:

Under 75,000 Population
Bayside, WI

75k to 150k Population
Elgin, IL
Evanston, IL
Santa Monica, CA
Somerville, MA

150k to 300k Population
Buffalo, NY
Norfolk, VA

300k and Above Population
Boston, MA
Charlotte, NC
Dallas, TX
Denver, CO
Indianapolis, IN
Jacksonville, FL
Minneapolis, MN
Philadelphia, PA
Pinellas County, FL
Sacramento, CA
San Francisco, CA

Highlights of “Innovative” program initiatives from some of the 2014–2016 Designees

Boston, Massachusetts
To strengthen engagement, the City worked with partners from the Boston Area Research Initiative (BARI), to share data with Boston’s leading academic institutions and scholars to help analyze engagement trends and develop solutions.

Charlotte, North Carolina
In Charlotte, modifications were made to IVR functionality and scripting to increase utilization. The continuation of this process over the last three fiscal years has resulted in CharMeck 311 handling over 100,000 more contacts with 23% fewer agents.

Over $3M in savings were realized over this operational period, with a significant portion returned to the General Fund. A portion of the budgetary savings was allocated to mitigate the cost of the implementation and support expenses associated with the new CRM implementation project.

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Results Minneapolis is the management tool the City uses to systematically track performance toward achieving the City’s five-year goals and 2020 vision. It includes weekly “progress conferences” where a review panel of city leaders meets with a different department head each week to track progress and discuss strategies on key performance measures.

The Results Minneapolis website is the public-facing element of this program. On the website, citizens can view data for broad, city-wide performance measures, as well as the more detailed information that is used for Results Minneapolis progress conferences.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philly311 has also leveraged YouTube to release The Philly311 Show, a talk show that features interviews from employees from across city departments to engage citizens with stories about municipal services and resources. Philly311 regularly posts on the wordpress site about new services, FAQs, and stories of citizen empowerment.

Philly311 has also created a strategic partnership with the Police Department to equip police vehicle computers with 311 work system. This means that on-duty officers can directly enter service requests for quality of life concerns, reducing the call volume.

To provide a more engaging, personal experience despite a $0 marketing budget, Philly311 implemented a Neighborhood Liaison Program. Through the program, a Philly311 community engagement coordinator attends community meetings to answer questions, record concerns, and offer a one-hour free training. Once trained, residents become “Philly311 Neighborhood Liaisons” and are able to directly enter and track service requests in the 311 system. These liaisons often become centralized, empowered voices in their communities. These liaisons also help to spread the word about the 311 service. To date, Philly311 has trained well over 1,000 Neighborhood Liaisons.

Buffalo, New York
The City has developed another way of engaging residents in citizen participation through the Mayor’s Citizen’s Participation Academy (CPA). The CPA was created to engage City of Buffalo residents in their local government by providing an interactive public forum. Through this forum residents learn firsthand about the structure and management of the City of Buffalo. Participants join elected and appointed officials, in an informal setting, to learn about city government through presentations, case studies and site tours. Each session focuses on a specific area of government, such as economic development, community programs, public safety, and a myriad of other topics. This free, ten-week program is open to interested City of Buffalo residents ages 18 and over. Upon completion of Academy, graduates will be encouraged to further expand their community involvement as a city or neighborhood association volunteer.

Somerville, Massachusetts
311 Somerville is currently working in conjunction with Harvard University on a social experiment focused on who does and does not use 311, and the reason why they do or do not. The idea revolves around introducing stimulus into the environment and then seeing who will call in to report the issue. That data will then be reviewed to better understand what makes some people feel the need to call us and the factors in why others do not.

Santa Monica, California
Through a variety of public engagement instruments including social media and surveys, the City is developing a prototype Wellbeing Index that will measure the quality of life for Santa Monica citizens. This project is funded by a One Million Dollar grant from the Bloomberg Foundation.

The new Open Data Portal has moved the City to a new level of transparency and is expected to foster economic activity as developers in the Silicon Beach community use city data in new applications. It is also expected to encourage citizen participation and engagement in local government and community affairs as they learn more about the City.

Village of Bayside, Wisconsin
The Village implemented enhanced mapping on the Bayside Connects application for service requests. They channel internal work orders through the CRM system to expedite internal processes in addition to the traditional external use.

Elgin, Illinois
The City uses the social collaboration tool Chatter to implement a new program for Citizen Advocates called Elgin Today. Elgin Today is an initiative that is centered on ensuring everyone is on the same page.  Each day a 311 manager meets either individually or with two Citizen Advocates and together they talk about what to expect, what’s happening in town, how to explain things or any concerns they might have.

What makes this program so unique is that it is a living breathing thing all day every day. Elgin 311 is connected to every department in the city through the constituent relationship management’s (CRM) social network. Anytime there is a post that catches the eye of someone on the 311 team they are able to tag it #ElginToday. Using this tag categorizes each item making the topic easy to find for discussion and anyone in the organization can see what’s trending through this tag.