I’m often asked to provide perspective on the Civic Engagement Fundamentals for local government. Having been a City/County council member really shaped my thinking on this.
In 2017 I was part of an ICMA group that was charged with identifying the most pressing needs of City and town managers. At that time, the number one issue was Civic Engagement. This was never really defined by the group, but it certainly had a lot to do with the political climate at the time. As a result a lot of “solutions” were created and brought into the government software market to capitalize on the emerging demand.
While a swarm of companies got funding and brought products and services to market, no one had actually taken the time to explore how the average citizen actually engages with their community.
Having spent my entire career working with local governments, I knew that the processes for routine interactions with communities (bill payment, information requests, licensing and permitting) is a highly fragmented and frustrating maze of processes. Investors have focused on rolling up companies but they have never been enhanced to provide a truly effective citizen experience. Having a 200-page website with beautiful graphics makes things worse when it takes twenty clicks to find what you want.
We created TownCloud because the status quo in local government software is broken. If you bolt together a bunch of pieces and parts from various companies, it just creates more confusion. We made the investment in a state-of-the-art platform and we built efficiency and citizen engagement into every aspect of what we do.
While the political climate has changed and the clamor for engagement has diminished, our focus on simplifying basic citizen interactions is proving more valuable than ever.
True Civic Engagement is a commitment by local governments to efficiency and accessibility. You can’t do this well with core systems that were designed in the 1980’s. This is why at TownCloud, we are on a mission to simplify every aspect of local government software. Our 4 suites (Engage, Development, Finance and Revenue) simplify operations while improving the customer experience for constituents. True Civic Engagement should make it easy for citizens to interact with their local governments.