Portals and web sites. "Web portals are a must for the modern municipality," emphasizes the My City Online guidebook. Indeed, most of the other solutions described in this section use the city's web site as a delivery mechanism; or, at least, as one doorway citizens can use to find and apply for services.
Some cities use content management systems to create portals to their web services. Others use sophisticated citizen relationship management software to produce all or part of their site. Still others use a purpose-built suite of applications from a company specializing in software for local government.
Bremerhaven’s portal is available by kiosk as well. The city has roughly two dozen kiosks with up-to-date information for citizens and tourists, including local events, local attractions, and real-time information on public transport.
Public safety and emergency response. Cities everywhere are developing helpful public safety apps for their citizens. Examples include reporting non-emergency crimes by web or smart phone; tip lines to assist the police with investigations; situational intelligence to prepare the first responders before arriving on scene; digital court forms; fire inspection checklists; emergency alerts (for such things as fires, mudslides, floods and power outages); crime statistics; and many more.
One useful source for public safety apps comes from the non-profit Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International (APCO), whose members include employees of law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services and emergency call centers. It hosts the AppComm website for reviewing and rating public safety apps. And it has produced a useful two-page PDF file called Key Attributes of Effective Apps for Public Safety and Emergency Response.
For further discussion of the issues and opportunities related to police, fire, ambulance, and disaster planning, turn to the Readiness Guide chapter on Public Safety.
Stakeholder engagement. Stakeholder engagement solutions give cities better ways to "listen" and "talk" to citizens, agencies, businesses, and other constituencies. It is not an exaggeration to say that stakeholder engagement software can revolutionize the way a city collects, analyzes, and distributes information. Employees have more timely, more accurate information for their decisions. And citizens gain a stronger sense of trust and community involvement.
The best solutions address three core tasks: 1) getting better input, 2) providing better output and 3) using analytics to improve the first two jobs.
Most stakeholder engagement solutions provide ways to receive and send alerts and announcements via email, app or text. By offering electronic ways to provide input, government gives constituents an easier way to make their voices heard. Some tools provide easy ways to produce online surveys. Others "listen" to social media to spot trends or to determine where the public stands on a current issue. Some solutions even give staff mobile tools, so they can collect and store information from in-person forums.
Finally, the best solutions also offer back-end tools. Some provide visualization tools – for instance, showing survey results as a chart or on a map. Many solutions also allow the city to manage its stakeholders, either via a built-in dashboard or by interconnecting with citizen relationship management software.
For further discussion of the issues and opportunities related to stakeholder engagement, and disaster planning, turn to the Readiness Guide chapter on Smart People.