Accelerating Digital Services: A Boon for Citizens and Municipalities Alike
By Eloise Chakour
Digital Transformation Communicator, Notarius
You’ve undoubtedly heard that digital solutions are the future for municipalities in Canada. But the day-to-day reality of how such solutions will impact citizens and municipal workers is not always made clear.
To illustrate some of the issues that citizens and employees may encounter before a municipality fully goes digital let’s consider three common cases.
Jane Feels Lost Looking for Puppy Licensing Information
Jane is a mother of three who lives in a large municipality in central Ontario. She has decided to surprise her children with the puppy they have been asking for. Before bringing it home, she wants to find how to license the newest family member.
Jane searches for dog licensing requirements in her area and finds a citizen portal. She tries her credentials, but they don’t work. It seems that this portal is used by a different department within the city. She is frustrated that she cannot access the correct portal, so she decides to simply search for the information on the municipality’s website.
Jane eventually finds out that she will need to take a photo of her driver’s license and email it to the municipality. She feels uncomfortable with this procedure because she does not know how the information will be handled and used. Although she knows she should do so, Jane decides not to get the license right away as she has more pressing things to do for her family. She feels defeated as she adds another item to her ever-growing list of things to do when she has extra time on her hands.
George (Almost) Grew His Business
George owns a small construction business and lives in a small municipality in Northern Ontario. His company has been hired by a developer on a trial basis for a series of renovations. If they are satisfied with his work, he will have the opportunity to continue working with them for the duration of their project.
Since he has never worked on a project of such magnitude, George wants to hire a project manager to ensure everything goes smoothly. He submits the appropriate permit requests and starts searching for the right manager. He finds Lydia, who has the required experience and is currently available. However, she is entertaining another offer and asks George to confirm his timeline and budget as soon as possible.
George tries to check the status of his permit request but is unable to do so online. He calls the building office and is told that his request has not yet been processed. They inform him there are currently delays in the approval process and are not able to give him a time estimate. Unfortunately, George does not receive the permit in time and Lydia is forced to decline his offer due to the delays.
Elizabeth Discovers a Confusing Legacy
Elizabeth recently started working for a municipality in Southern Ontario. She is now responsible for approving, paying, and tracking invoices for municipal providers. Her predecessor passed on a multi-step system revolving around paper filing and several electronic spreadsheets. In fact, Elizabeth repeatedly finds invoices that have not been signed and she must reach out to the people responsible for approving the spending. Due to these delays, Elizabeth cannot pay all the invoices on time.
After a few weeks, Elizabeth begins to feel overworked and to worry about the integrity of the system. She is frustrated that she cannot pay all invoices on time despite her best efforts. She meets with her manager to discuss the possibility of switching to digital tools, but her manager doesn’t see the need to change a system that they think has been working. After a few months of frustration, Elizabeth decides to resign and finds a job where she feels her skills are better utilized.
Digital Services to the Rescue!
In Jane’s case, a consolidated digital services platform with a robust search engine and privacy-preserving features paired with a coherent, easy-to-use website would streamline her search process and increase her confidence in her municipality’s digital services. Knowing that she can easily find and use all municipal services via a consolidated single dashboard with the ability to control her personal information, she may become more likely to seek out services and engage with her community.
Such a solution, connected to a CRM, would allow George to track permit requests without having to call the office. By integrating this management tool and professional digital signatures into the workflow, George’s municipality can facilitate approval processes, plan iterations and ensure document integrity and compliance across the board. These changes would build George’s trust in digital municipal services and give him the autonomy to better manage his business. Disruptions and uncertainty can be difficult for small businesses. Enabling them to have confidence that their workflows will not be disrupted when interacting with municipal services allows them to flourish.
Similarly, by using a case management tool and a trusted electronic signature platform, Elizabeth’s municipality could save time and money while increasing her sense of accomplishment. Furthermore, an integrated digital environment could help eliminate failure points in workflows, avoiding potentially costly and frustrating mistakes. Taken together, these digital tools would allow Elisabeth to track invoices, obtain approval from employees who are on the go, and enable them to sign – all from their mobile device.
You can find out more about how to accelerate your municipality’s digital transformation responsibly at: https://www.portagecybertech.com/en/solutions/online-services-platform.