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A new survey of 16,000 Americans helps illustrate the link between a local government’s use of technology, its transparency practices, its service offerings and how much trust it’s earned from residents.

Today’s demand from consumers for exceptional digital self-service and immersive engagement has become an all-encompassing influence, shaping their interactions with brands and corporations across industries and governing bodies alike.

As societal expectations continue to grow, the responsibility to recalibrate approaches and cater to the modern needs of residents is growing more intense. Similarly, residents who are accustomed to seamless interactions now hold the same expectations when dealing with public services that are perceived as dated by contemporary standards. From this intricate interplay, technological empowerment emerges as the bridge spanning the widening gap of expectation, setting the stage for an evolution in civic engagement propelled by the digital capabilities that modernity offers.

THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY ON RESIDENTS’ PERCEPTION OF THEIR LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Based on a new survey by CivicPlus involving 16,000 Americans, a direct link between technology and resident satisfaction has been identified, largely driven by the convenience of accessing resident services through technology. More precisely, residents residing in technology-forward communities tend to be more active civic participants, as government software applications place the potential for a stronger community in the hands of the people.

The survey, which aimed to discover the elements impacting the satisfaction and trust of community residents with their municipal administration, also brought to light three significant outcomes of digital self-service technology solutions: their pivotal contribution to empowering residents, their role in establishing transparent communication channels and their ability to showcase responsible use of taxpayer funds to improve overall quality of life. This underscores a clear link between technology and the trust and contentment of residents with their local government.

More specifically, here’s what the survey found:

  1. Digital engagement, or the lack thereof, shapes residents’ perceptions of local government:

    Residents who interact with their city’s website more than once a month are nearly five times more likely to trust their city. Moreover, residents in communities with digital self-service technologies express higher satisfaction with their local government compared to those who still rely on traditional interactions for government services. This highlights the link between low confidence and slow technology adoption, and the importance of integrating technology within local government to enhance communication and engagement.

    Additionally, technology empowers residents to actively collaborate with local leaders, facilitating efficient issue resolution and the ability to meaningfully address needs.

  2. Building trust and satisfaction requires local government to bridge the gap between citizen expectations and government transparency:

    A significant majority (more than 82 percent of residents) deem it essential for their local government to offer transparency and access to administrative decisions. However, only 41 percent express satisfaction with how their local agencies presently share information with the public. Furthermore, 59 percent agree that an upgrade to meeting and agenda management software would elevate their opinion of their clerk’s office by making information more accessible and transparent. In fact, when asked about the most important attributes of an accessible system, respondents highlighted the following features:

    1. Easy access to information about meetings and agendas
    2. Immediate notifications about administrative decisions
    3. Full public access to all information
    4. Updates regarding codes and ordinances implemented by the local government
    5. Instant notifications about topics addressed by the local government

    These insights emphasize the critical need for local governments to evaluate their current communication and information distribution practices. By identifying gaps and areas where modern solutions can offer intuitive interfaces, easy information access and real-time updates, governments can significantly enhance transparency and engagement to better meet residents’ expectations.

  3. The convergence of local governance, innovation and public perception must promote education and confidence in embracing technology:

    Among those who fully trust their local government, 56 percent are early technology adopters. In contrast, individuals who report the lowest levels of trust in their local government tend to be slower in adopting technology — 75 percent of those who completely distrust local government are late technology adopters.

    This correlation presents a challenge for local leaders as technological solutions designed to boost transparency and trust are most needed by those who are less comfortable using them.

Local government agencies must take the necessary steps to identify and eliminate barriers to technology, prioritizing user-friendliness when selecting resident engagement and communication software. Further, when introducing new solutions, incorporating resident feedback on functionality can lead to ongoing optimizations that can nurture the government-resident relationship in both the short and long term.

Residents who are passionate about their community’s progress, cleanliness and activities want frictionless and singular access to the tools and resources that connect them to their administrative leaders and resources. Making a decisive shift toward transformative technologies offers an opportunity to embrace the future of modern civic engagement and introduce systems that benefit both residents and governments alike.

Despite the challenges associated with technology adoption, there is evidence that implementing user-friendly and seamless technology solutions and experiences will inevitably lead to positive impacts and outcomes for residents and those who serve them.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Brenden Elwood

Quelle/Source: Government Technology, 12.09.2023

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