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Better Governing through Civic Engagement

It’s already happening. You see it when citizens report potholes, broken signs, graffiti or nuisances using 311 apps. You see it with hackathons, the open data movement, and with organizations like Code for America and Tumml brokering innovation by bringing together developers and government agencies. There’s a palpable energy driven by technological innovations, heightened expectations, and the diverse needs of governments and the businesses they serve. At Accela, we’re keenly focused on improving governing and governments through civic engagement.

Why Civic Engagement and why now? Agencies of all sizes can now deploy cloud, web, mobile and social technologies to more effectively engage with their constituencies, meet changing regulatory and compliance standards and manage civic functions. The Center for Digital Government recently completed a survey of 150 local government IT and business leaders to measure awareness and need for regulatory software. The study showed that government efficiency is the most important issue to agencies surveyed, with 78% of respondents listing this area as very important. And one in four respondents is ready to replace their existing systems with 48% of respondents planning to do so in the next 12 months.

We’re in the midst of a replacement cycle, and by leveraging cloud technology to deploy these important foundational capabilities, governments make it easier for citizens to proactively participate in their government. These solutions are easy to buy and quick to deploy. They shift the burden of configuring, running and administering them from the agency to the provider so agencies can focus on government business, not government business systems. And, by bringing a platform-based business model to the development community, we are stoking the fire to fuel even more innovation.

The foundational capabilities are available for agencies of all sizes to improve core civic functions AND to drive civic engagement by:

  • Engaging citizens to participate in and directly improve their communities: By leveraging apps and mobile devices, citizens can report community problems, track applications or statuses, or offer solutions.
  • Making it easier to do government business: By enabling people and businesses to participate in and manage key civic functions, when, where and how they want.
  • Driving civic innovation: By providing a greater role for citizens in defining priorities, processes and use of public assets through hackathons and opportunities for urban innovation.
  • Improving transparency, accuracy and accountability: By providing open access to data and core functions like permitting and licensing.

We believe that the most successful and effective government agencies will be those that adapt to the changing role of government, adopt open data policies, invest in technology to better serve citizens and businesses and partner with the private sector to foster growth and economic development. That’s what we mean by better governing through civic engagement, and it’s an idea that is ready for prime time. How do you think government agencies can be more successful?

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