Need a fishing license? Want to register to vote? Need some information about zoning in your neighborhood? Your state and local governments have all this information but sometimes they aren’t delivering it in the best way. Fortunately, the trend of digital services is picking up steam across the public sector and offering a citizen centric solution to the government’s digital issues.
For this week’s State and Local Spotlight GovLoop’s Emily Jarvis sat down with Nikhil Deshpande, Director at GeorgiaGov Interactive to discuss the platform and how it is increasing the citizen experience in Georgia.
GeorgiaGov Interactive has consolidated all of Georgia’s web services into one platform. They serve 65 state agencies and host about 80 websites on the publishing platform. Their goal with the consolidated platform is to allow each agency to drive their own unique mission through a user friendly website.
Going into 2017, Deshpande’s top priorities are to ensure that all of the State of Georgia’s online presence wholly caters to citizens. They’ve already won half the battle as he emphasized, “we are meeting that goal as far as technology is concerned but we are really working on communication moving forward.” In Georgia, this is taking the form of an educational effort where agencies learn how effective their platforms are in reaching citizens. Additionally, Deshpande and his team are working on empowering content managers while emphasizing the brand of GeorgiaGov.
However, Deshpande emphasized, “there’s no silver bullet for cultural buy-in.” In order to promote cultural awareness, Deshpande and his team are working across state IT levels to highlight that their priorities should start with the user, content, and mobile. “These are the three tenants of our overall strategy,” he explained. “Everything on a platform needs to be user focused, content specific, and mobile centric.”
When these three themes are the focus, there is a clear positive reaction from the citizenry. “The usage of our platform is steadily inclining, comparing 2012 to 2015, our usage has almost doubled and our mobile traffic has gone up from 25 percent to around 45 percent,” Deshpande said. He attributes these gains to recently created mobile friendly sites and how he and his team work to cater to trends and expectations of their constituents.
Current training initiatives are focusing primarily on the GeorgiaGov web publishing platform but Deshpande and his team are also concentrating on promoting content strategy. “We recently on-boarded a content strategist to our team who came up with a playbook for content strategy that we are going to circulate to agencies moving forward,” he said. Some of the best practices in the playbook include content focused workshops, understanding analytics, and resource prioritization.
Georgia has made many innovative gains in digital services and they have no plans to stop any time soon. “We are going to continue trying to make the maximum impact with minimum resources within Georgia,” Deshpande explained. Creating a citizen focused startup culture in state and local IT can be challenging but is not impossible. He concluded, “Trying to be cost effective and innovative is not something that is beyond any state’s means, if we can do it any state can.”