Community engagement … it has long been a buzzword in local government.
However, local governments are increasingly struggling to find ways to engage with and interact with an ever-more physically detached citizenry as our population becomes more reliant on digital interactions and communications rather than face-to-face engagements. We bank online, we work online, we “friend” people online, we opine online.
A lot of local governments - and honestly governments at all levels - are increasingly faced with finding new ways to interact with their citizens and constituents when fewer and fewer are walking through their office and meeting room doors.
So that’s why earlier this year, CivicPlus set out to find the answers to the questions: How well are local governments engaging their citizens online, and are local governments meeting their citizens’ online expectations?
Over the course of six months, CivicPlus gathered assessments of more than 250 local government websites across the United States and Canada and surveyed more than 1,200 Internet-using citizens in the same countries.
The result is the CivicPlus' white paper "Digital Disconnect: The Gaps Between Government-to-Citizen Online Interactions," which analyzes the gaps between what citizens are wanting out of their local government websites, and how well local governments are doing at meeting those expectations.
The study is chock full of research that makes a case for what local governments are doing well by way of providing online services, and what they're doing not so well at providing.
This research is the first step in helping local governments better understand how their citizens want to interact with their governments online. We think the results show an obvious disconnect between what local governments provide online and what citizens expect from their local governments, and through this study, some trends have been exposed that can give local governments a roadmap to better communicating and engaging with their citizens.
But perhaps the biggest takeaway – or the biggest disconnect – that we found in our research was that many citizens simply aren’t aware of what their local government website offers them. Many citizens are not being educated and exposed to the services and features on many governments websites, even if their local government website actually offers the services they would like to use.
Download the study and let us know what you think by commenting below. It's the first step in equipping governments with the information they need to make better informed decisions when it comes to their digital efforts.