Comcate Newsletter – July

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Aug. 2014

How to Streamline Citizen Engagement to Improve Agency Efficiency

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The argument can and has been made that society’s reliance on technology, especially in regards to the Internet, has pushed communication into an impersonal sphere. From “conversations” with Facebook “friends” to text messaging instead of having a face-to-face chat – people around the globe are deeply attached to their smartphones. However, when it comes to establishing a better connection between municipalities and citizens, technology is the key component, and it’s being proven every day.

Smartphone apps have caused a movement that has been revolutionary in their ability to help deliver services that make the members of the community part of the solution to government issues. In San Francisco as an example – food stamp recipients now receive a text message when their benefits are close to expiring. Cleveland, a city that is attempting to make its roadways more bicycle friendly, is using an app that lets bikers offer their suggestions to city planners.

We can’t argue against technology’s value in letting everyday citizens be a part of the solution that has for too long been on the shoulders of a few overworked city employees. Need another example of how technology is bringing communities together? Take a portal established for a county in Maryland that has given citizens insight into every facet of government, allowing for full disclosure on everything from salaries, budgets, restaurant inspection outcomes, contracts and performance measurements. The county’s use of apps has been the appropriate medium for the program that focuses on online engagement over public meetings where time is limited and not all citizens are comfortable with or have the time to attend. According to a county official, they have witnessed a 15 percent increase in visits to portals.

Another city, Elk Grove, CA built mobile apps with a $5,000 investment in an effort to help residents report issues in their neighborhoods. As of April, the app had been downloaded nearly 2,000 times and more than 1,000 requests had been submitted.

Public safety departments are also relying on mobile apps to give them a heads-up when citizens need their assistance. An app called PulsePoint is built to notify citizens who are trained in CPR when an emergency is happening in their area.

More and more communities are getting an upgrade in services provided by their elected officials and city employees through technology developed by Comcate, a company that believes government should be run more efficiently. With Citizen Mobile Access, an app that integrates the camera on a smartphone and its built-in GIS technology, Comcate is empowering city residents. With the solution downloaded onto a smartphone, residents can send reports on issues in their neighborhood to the city. As an example, if someone drives through a large pothole, they can pull over, take a picture of it, pinpoint the location with GIS, send the report to the city and receive updates on what the city is doing to solve the problem.

MY VIEW

Citizen Mobile Access brings the strongest aspect of any community – its residents – into the mix to help solve issues and make neighborhoods safer and more enjoyable. To do so, this Comcate solution is designed to make communication and engagement easy by leveraging devices citizens use on a daily basis.

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SOLUTION PROFILE

If your residents have ever noticed a problem with some area of public property and not known what to do about it – we have the answer. The Comcate Citizen Mobile Access app gives residents a way to report potholes, downed power lines, broken streetlights and more. Users can upload photos or send text messages to report concerns and with GSI integration their problem’s exact location will be automatically communicated.

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CLIENT SUCCESS STORY

Droughts in California are cyclical, but by nearly all accounts, this current one is exceptional. To help conserve water during this dire drought, officials in Santa Clara have adopted a new app, developed by Comcate, which allows users to report water wastefulness. Citizens can use the app to report problems like a sprinkler that sprays water onto the sidewalk, or hoses without shut-off valves. They can even upload photos of violations. The decision to go the extra mile to protect water usage passed the board unanimously and the technology allows city officials and citizens to partner together in guarding this precious resource.

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In This Issue

MY VIEW

How Citizen Mobile Access Connects Communities

SOLUTION PROFILE

Citizen Mobile Access

CLIENT SUCCESS STORY

Water Conservation Enforcement

BLOGS

EVENTS

Visit us at these upcoming Trade shows:

Sept. 3-5, CA League of Cities, Los Angeles, CA

Sept 14-17, ICMA, Charlotte, NC

CASE STUDIES

Read our Case Studies to see how our clients are successfully using Citizen’s Mobile Access

Read what other Public Agencies have to say about Comcate

“We’ve been very happy with the quality of service and professionalism Comcate demonstrated. The system is very easy to use and configure to meet our needs. Data management is now automated. Reporting is simple.” Mike Tilson, Director of Code Enforcement, Albany, GA

”Comcate’s team understands what it takes to make the implementation of a new program a success in a public agency.” Judy LaPorte, Director of Administrative Services City of Rocklin, CA

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