Skip to content

Enhancing Citizen Engagement in Local Government

New innovations enhance many aspects of our lives, and this includes improving citizen engagement in local government. Innovative technology has become a crucial enabler for delivering more efficient and user-friendly services in all government departments, but especially in local government. More traditional methods of governance are disappearing, with e-governance solutions taking their place.

This article explores the significant impact of technological advancements on improving citizen experiences with government services. It delves into the strategies for creating seamless digital experiences, the importance of transparency and security in digital platforms, and highlights how these elements contribute to building trust and confidence among citizens.

Strategies for developing seamless digital experiences

Federal, state and local governments are becoming more dependent on digital platforms to deliver services to businesses and citizens. Local government authorities (LGAs), in particular, recognise the need for implementing user-friendly interfaces when creating digital services.

Demand for customer service help from LGAs has significantly increased over the past few years, and it’s more important than ever to replace the traditional phone only channel with more streamlined digital services, delivered via web and app-based platforms. The goal is to increase the efficiency and speed of service delivery, and to meet the growing expectations of clients and the community at large.

With these points in mind, let’s look at how this is being done at many progressive LGAs throughout Australia.

AI (artificial intelligence)

The continual growth and evolution of AI technology allow Council and Shire staff to interact with local citizens and manage public services in a whole new way. A good example is chatbots powered by artificial intelligence. AI bots can respond to user queries instantly 24/7. This alone vastly minimises the workload on customer service teams.

Complex administrative tasks and processes are one of the many challenges that LGAs face daily. Adopting AI technology and powerful algorithms means that many cumbersome tasks are automated, leading to much higher levels of accuracy and efficiency.

AI Virtual Assistants field citizen queries and improve engagement through rapid and more personalised interactions. AI can also identify potential risks in procedures and mitigate those risks before a problem arises.

How blockchain technology can help

Blockchain technology is not restricted to Bitcoin and the world of cryptocurrencies. Because this technology has the ability to provide transparent and secure transactions, LGAs can leverage the power of blockchain technology to ensure the integrity of critical processes, such as supply chain management and property registration.  This delivers increased trust by removing intermediaries and providing transparent transaction records.

The very essence of blockchain technology also means that fraud and corruption is a thing of the past.

IoT (Internet of Things)

Most of us have heard of the Internet of Things (IoT), but what is it exactly?

Basically, IoT is a network of devices that interrelate and communicate with one another. One IoT device can connect and exchange data with another IoT device, as well as with the cloud. You typically find IoT in sensors and software programs, along with mechanical and digital machines.

The adoption of IoT in local government leads to faster service delivery, enhanced efficiency, more accurate processes and improved decision making. It also allows for the rapid exchange of data and information between systems and devices, as the following examples illustrate:

  • Promote the principles of open standards technology, such as public access IoT networks and open data hubs for sensor data, as well as sharing frameworks that all city and regional smart initiatives can leverage.
  • Reduce traffic jams and increase road safety by integrating IoT technology with transportation systems. IoT-enabled smart parking systems lower emissions by assisting cars in finding open parking spots.
  • Systems with IoT connectivity for waste management provide economical and effective waste management. Sensor-equipped smart bins keep track of their fill levels, cutting down on needless trips and fuel use.
  • By using smart energy networks and metres, IoT can optimise energy use. Monitoring patterns of energy consumption in real time makes it easier to spot inefficiencies and possible areas for energy savings. Demand-response systems driven by the Internet of Things balance energy usage during peak hours.

The importance of transparency and security in digital interactions

In an independent review  of the Australian public service, conducted by David Thodey in 2018, it was found that only three in ten Australians trust government services. This indicates that governments on all levels are struggling to establish that all-important trust factor.

Transparency is paramount

The customer experience and trust are related, and transparency plays a pivotal role in establishing trust between residents and local government departments.

LGAs need to provide clear, accessible and honest information regarding policies, how citizen data is used, the decision-making processes and more.

Further findings in David Thodey’s report, related to the need for governments to provide seamless services built on trust, and to use emerging technologies to deliver proactive, personalised and integrated services. A key recommendation was to design these services around people, and not around the government.

More personalised and empathetic interactions in contact centres will also build trust levels, as will removing things like timing and forcing customer service staff to stick to a script. Team members need to be free to respond on a personal level to adequately address citizen problems or concerns, and, as the frontline, they should be actively encouraged to provide customer feedback to help improve government services.

Cybersecurity and protecting citizen data

As local governments adopt more and more digital technology, cybersecurity and data protection becomes a concern. To secure trust, LGAs must invest in adequate cybersecurity measures to protect citizen data at all times. The focus should be on protecting against cyber breaches, cyber attacks, data theft, and a variety of other potentially malicious activities.

Governments can achieve this by implementing employee training, performing thorough system audits and establishing robust access controls. Ensuring the integrity of digital services instils confidence in the community and once again enhances citizen trust in their local Council or Shire.

Ready to transform your citizen engagement experience?

At Premier Contact Point, our web-based solutions for local government contact centre operations offer a cost-effective way to deliver an extraordinary level of personalised and transparent customer service.

Ready to take your CX to the next level?
Get in touch to get started.