For the third year in a row, Vision commissioned a survey to gauge the current state of digital communications in local government and project future trends. The survey — What’s Next in Digital Communications for Local Government — went out to over 3,600 local government agencies and provides a glimpse into the trends and challenges facing government staff seeking to keep pace with ever changing technology.
In summary, three key themes emerged:
Though 86% of respondents cited Citizen Engagement as an area that is already having or will have an impact on local government by the end of 2017, only 5% of local government leaders rank their agencies “outstanding” in effective citizen engagement. Additionally, “Limited Citizen Engagement” was cited as the top issue related to respondents’ existing websites.
Not surprisingly, improving engagement was cited as the top area for planned expansion and investment.
“I believe we could benefit from receiving more feedback from citizens as to what they would like to see/be altered.” — Communications Director, New Mexico
An overwhelming number of respondents (87% in 2017 compared with 89% in 2016) have moderate, weak or no knowledge of Federal web accessibility requirements. Given 98% of respondents feel web accessibility will have a “significant impact” on local government by 2020, overcoming this knowledge gap is an important priority.
“We try our best to keep citizens aware, making information available, yet it all still takes some staff time and energy for all of these issues. Many smaller governments cannot afford to invest what is required.” — County Commissioner, Minnesota
More than half (56%) of respondents report currently maintain mobile-responsive websites and this number is expected to accelerate this year and into the future. Among respondents who do not currently have mobile-ready sites, virtually all plan on upgrading to responsive design in the future — 26 percent in 2017 and another 16 percent in the future.
“Local governments are no different than business; they have clients that expect modern access to data and systems. Technology is changing the way local governments operate.” — Director of Information Systems, Minnesota
Over the past three years of surveys, the shift from an internal staff focus to one centered on the citizen experience has been dramatic. It’s clear that local government leaders recognize their responsibility to provide their residents with accessible and transparent digital services. It’s up to local leaders to ensure their messages are consistent and reaching residents across all platforms.
Download the complete What’s Next in Digital Communications for Local Government report for a detailed look at our survey findings.