Civic innovation hit the road at the end of September with ELGL's RoadTrip events. ELGL (Engaging Local Government Leaders) is a community of dedicated civic leaders who work in or with local government and are committed to improving their local context by sharing innovative ideas and best practices with other leaders. ELGL loves government - and it shows in their events! There were more than 25 #RoadTrip events all across the country, from Florida to Washington state! Each event had its own topic, speakers, and local government hosts. Guests and presenters included regional elected officials, academics, and experts at the cutting edge of local government transformation. Here are our top two takeaways from each of the events we attended:
Erie, PA: Automating Your Job Application Processes to Grow Your Applicant Pool
It's not surprising that this event was our favorite, since we were co-hosting it with our partners at the City of Erie. We hosted a fun lunch and informal presentation on how we worked together to improve the City's Fire Department applicant recruitment process with an automated digital job application workflow. CityGrows customer success manager Jasmine Burns presented along with city staff. and we were thrilled that Mayor Schember participated!
Our two main takeaways were:
- Adding online options for applicants can significantly increase the number of completed applications (this holds true for job applications, business licenses, dog licenses - pretty much anything gets more traction when it's online.
- Moving from a paper to an online workflow isn't always smooth sailing. Creating digital workflows changes how people are used to doing things, and staff need time to adjust and the opportunity to be involved in the setup and planning of new digital initiatives.
If you're interested in learning more about what we did in Erie, check out our case study!
LA: Gov 2.0: Technology and Public Engagement
This session had some great speakers - Ashley Laboisier from the Davenport Institute at Pepperdine University's Public Policy School facilitated a great session on public engagement and technology, but the principles she shared are valid for any technology assessment process. She was joined by Kristina Ray from Carlsbad, CA. Our two takeaways:
- Always be mindful of your goals for any public engagement activities and be aware where they fall on the spectrum of public engagement.
- Don't allow "shiny object syndrome" or the input of one compelling tech vendor to make you lose sight of your goals. Always research, compare, and ask others to make sure you're really using the right technology to meet your goals. (And I'd add, any good tech company should be encouraging you to do this!).
Hillsboro, OR: Innovation in the Portland Metro Area
Evan Schoepke, our Business Development and Growth lead at CityGrows attended the Hillsboro, Oregon #Roadtrip stop.
Our two takeaways:
- Public engagement requires honest assessment of community needs -this point was brought home by Lacey Beaty, a Beaverton City Council Member. "While big innovative projects are great, an even bigger impact comes from making sure to get deep public engagement, which may require child care being provided during public meetings."
- There are far more opportunities to improve processes and workflows than you think - a session hosted by Steve Plesant from Hillsboro, and Megan Falcone and Cary Stacey from Portland Metro had participants map all the decision points/ change opportunities in simple processes, each team had slightly different solutions. Inspiring!
Our team had an excellent time getting to know and hear from other ELGL members and what they are up to in their communities. ELGL is truly creating a movement of innovation within local government that is making impact and incubating the next generation of local leaders.
Want to connect with more local government innovators like these? Come see us at the upcoming ICMA Conference in Nashville, TN (Oct 20-23). We'll be co-hosting a special Digital Afterparty with ELGL at Pinewood Social on Monday Oct. 21st at 8pm, click here to RSVP!