3 Ways Governments Can and Are Using OpenGov During the Coronavirus Crisis
March 25, 2020 – Lane Hartman
The Coronavirus Crisis is profoundly affecting governments, economies, and residents worldwide. While the true human and economic cost of the crisis is unknowable and still evolving, the implications of the downturn in financial markets coupled with the COVID-19 outbreak and public health crisis has put two significant and immediate challenges at the doorstep of every government entity.
To address some of the challenges that have surfaced for governments during this crisis, there are powerful use-cases emerging from the OpenGov community as customers are leveraging OpenGov to make informed decisions, plan scenarios for an uncertain future, and communicate effectively with constituents and with the public.
Here is a look at three valuable ways we have seen OpenGov put to work effectively to assist with response to the Coronavirus Crisis, to help governments adjust to remote work and virtual communications, and also how OpenGov can be leveraged for long-term response in the coming months. It will show examples where OpenGov products can and have helped governments address some of the budgeting, planning, resident services, and communications challenges dominating leaders' concerns during this crisis.
1. Keeping the Government Running, Communicative, and Connected
Centralized Communications for Residents
Many customers, like Half Moon Bay, CA and Redding, CA are leveraging OpenGov Stories as a central hub for communicating key information and updates about the current local situation and the measures the government is taking to address the epidemic. Stories are quick to set up, require no coding, and they can even embed financial reports and other important data sets. For an example of a generic Coronavirus story, please click here.
Collecting Feedback from Residents and Virtual Council Meetings
While operations may be displaced, many governments will still need to hold scheduled meetings of elected officials. Important decisions need to be made, and open and transparent engagement with citizens is critical. As governments look for ways to virtualize scheduled meetings which may include video, web cast and other methods, collecting feedback and input in online Town Halls provides a way to bring the citizen to a digital platform as well. With OpenGov’s Open Town Hall, governments can hold online meetings while collecting input and citizen comments from the comfort of their own home. Digital Open Town Halls provide the ability to collect, analyze, respond and disseminate clear information from the public while ensuring the interaction is coming only from their community.
One recent example of a virtual City Council meeting is Daly City, CA.
Cloud Technology Allows Teams to Work From Anywhere
As workforces across the nation are being forced to go remote, the benefit of leveraging Cloud technology for mission-critical work has never been greater. Cloud technology can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection. There is no need to troubleshoot VPNs or virtual desktops to access the necessary systems. Simply get online to access the mission-critical software that keeps the government running. Anywhere there is an internet connection can be transformed into a command center.
2. Budgeting and Planning in the Midst of the Crisis
The Coronavirus Crisis will strain government resources nation-wide. Factors like the lack of normal economic activity, decreases in tourism, canceled events and conferences, and more will lower government revenues. Concurrently, departments of agencies like health, police and fire, emergency management and others are working overtime and will thus require more resources from the budget. Hundreds of OpenGov budgeting and planning customers are already using the technology for their day-to-day short and long-term planning. In the event of a crisis like this, the power and flexibility that the software provides can greatly help make short and long term adjustments to budgets in response to the present crisis.
Adjustments to the Budget
In light of these events, governments are leveraging OpenGov’s integrated online budgeting solution to see the current budget and actuals, receive commentary from the team, make proposals, and get plans approved. This solution ensures that teams can easily dive into the current budget to ensure efficiency and uncover any areas of potential cost savings. Efficient and effective budgeting is always welcome, but reducing friction here when dealing with a crisis is even more impactful.
Plan for new or updated personnel and workforce costs
Being able to quickly react to a major event like a virus outbreak or natural disaster and forecasting where a government needs to dedicate funding and resources is critical for short and long term planning. Most governments can safely assume that overtime for their health and public safety departments will dramatically increase during the COVID outbreak, and being able to plan ahead of time will allow the government to provide the needed resources to its residents. Customers are able to use OpenGov to create a streamlined personnel forecast and reduce complexities associated with calculations. Have the ability to make decisions on new FTEs and tie personnel costs directly into the planning and scenario process.
Use of Dashboards
Many customers are using OpenGov to create a dashboard that combines financial (overtime increases, operating expense increases, revenue decreases...) and non financial data (number of cases, health response times, hospital occupancy …) around COVID-19 that allows the user to quickly see the impact the crisis is having on a Government and a community.
Being able to plan multiple scenarios simultaneously is key when going through a critical decision making process and gives executives and elected officials a better picture of how things will play out. Being able to track State and Federal Disaster Aid in different scenarios also gives a government a clear understanding of where they are going to be financially before making tough decisions like using reserves, reducing positions and cutting programs. Using OpenGov, customers are planning for multiple financial scenarios so there are clear options laid out ahead of time whether there is a quick rebound from this crisis or a long one.
Financial Decision Packets
Internal decision making during a crisis like COVID-19 is reliant on having that latest data and information available in a comprehensive decision package. Using OpenGov, teams can create decision package templates that pull in data, tables, visualizations, maps, and images from multiple sources that give Executives and Elected Officials a clear understanding of how a crisis is going to impact the Government’s revenues, expenditures and performance.
3. Deliver Resident Services Remotely
Hundreds of Governments are using OpenGov to offer many of their services online. This is key in a situation where quarantines are in place for a health outbreak like COVID-19 and a resident can’t make it into City Hall. It's a community-wide citizen service platform that gives users complete control over the entire process. Powerful built-in reporting provides incredible insight into every customer and the ability to proactively respond to changing dynamics.
This platform provides the following:
- Online web portal where residents can apply, pay for, track, and receive their permits or licenses
- Ability for governments to automate license renewals, track high-level progress, and enable online renewals
- Enabling online bill pay for filing fees, utility bills, and parking
- And more - just click here to read about OpenGov’s Permitting, Licensing, and Code Enforcement Suite
When residents can’t make it to City Hall in-person, OpenGov can allow you to create a Virtual City Hall to provide needed resident services and keep everything running remotely.
Stay tuned to OpenGov's blog and social media channels as we will continue to show new and innovative ways governments are leveraging OpenGov technology to meet the needs of their teams and their communities. If you are interested in learning more, or just want to talk, please Contact Us.
For further reading, take a look at our eBook "Four Government Strategies to Operate and Communicate During a Crisis"
Ready to talk? Request more info below: