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Accela and Opencities Partner to Launch New Premium Digital Citizen Experience Solution for Governments

First-of-Its-Kind Integration of Market-Leading Cloud Solutions Enables Agencies to Create Modern Citizen Experiences That Connect to a Powerful Citizen Service Delivery Automation Platform to Redefine the Relationship Between Citizens and Government

Accela, the leading provider of cloud-based regulatory and service delivery solutions for government, announced its new SaaS Premium Citizen Experience powered by OpenCities, designed to create an intuitive digital front door for vital citizen services. To adapt with rising citizen expectations, governments across the country are increasingly reliant on digital technology to expand access to critical information, provide essential services, and connect with their communities remotely. Accela and OpenCities’ new integrated premium product provides agencies with a no-code way to create engaging, easy-to-use web portals and online forms that connect citizens with licensing, permitting, service request, and other functions to redefine the modern relationship between citizen and government.

“Citizens want to quickly find and access the information they need and intuitively navigate and engage with their governments,” said Tom Nieto, Chief Operating Officer at Accela. “The new Premium Citizen Experience powered by our strategic partner OpenCities’ technology creates a seamless, user-friendly digital customer journey and helps governments deliver a world class experience to their constituents, particularly as the demand for online services increases exponentially. The solution is grounded in Accela and OpenCities’ shared vision of transforming digital experiences for government to help them better serve their communities.”

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The Premium Citizen Experience powered by OpenCities offers government leaders a fully mobile-responsive, iterative, and cost-effective method for creating dynamic portals and forms that serve as the digital front door for permitting, licensing, service request functions and other citizen services. Using the solution, governments of all sizes can create modern, intuitive, and “consumer-like” experiences without the need for custom coding, outside vendors, or contractors to maintain digital services. With the ability to manage their portals in-house, agencies can save valuable time and financial resources amid rising widespread government budget cuts. According to the National League of Cities, local governments across the country are expected to lose $360 billion in revenue over the next three years.

“The new Premium Citizen Experience is not just a product, but an approach to digital services that helps governments embrace user-centered design so they can better connect with their citizens, ” said Luke Norris, Managing Director of Strategy and Government Relations at OpenCities. “We are proud to partner with Accela to create a one-of-a-kind solution that empowers governments without custom code and is accessible to everyone within state and local government regardless of their technology background and experience.”

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The Premium Citizen Experience powered by OpenCities is unique in that it encompasses the entire customer journey from start to finish through an unprecedented level of back-end and front-end integration with an agency’s website. It seamlessly filters through Accela’s back-end “system-of-record” to apply workflows, business logic, and various other elements to automate online service delivery. Additionally, the solution:

  • Automatically prioritizes homepage tasks and services for what people need most, based on seasonal trends and usage context, such as reporting potholes when citizens visit the site from their mobile phone, or lodging planning applications for desktop visitors.
  • Curates a smarter, predictive government-focused search experience that translates government terminology into plain English, informed by the millions of daily search interactions OpenCities powers between citizens and their cities, to help connect citizens with the right information.
  • Provides ADA accessibility compliance to ensure key city services are available to everyone in the city, including those that often need them most, and reduce agency maintenance.
  • Offers flexible technology that makes it quick and easy for agency staff to update not only content, but manage the entire portal design and layout without the need for custom coding or vendor-change orders.
  • Enables consistency of agency look and feel from across various parts of the agency’s branded portal.
  • Reduces the effort and complexity of multi-channel communication by allowing agencies to create content once and easily share it across multiple platforms. For example, if an agency posts an event to the city calendar, the event can automatically be syndicated across department sites, shared on Facebook or Twitter, and even sent as an email notification.
  • Features dashboards for agencies to track and improve customer experience, resolve bottlenecks, and demonstrate digital transformation impact, such as dollars and time saved.
  • Guarantees future-proof compatibility with evolving browsers, mobile devices, accessibility needs, and design trends without the unexpected budget increase.

Grand Rapids, Michigan, is one of the agencies utilizing OpenCities’ no-code solution to create a new city website. By leveraging OpenCites, Grand Rapids was able to reduce customer walk-ins by 79% for some of their highest-utilized services and by 20% across all 265 new digital services built with OpenCities’ customer experience platform. The city also realized a $25,000 savings for just one of its services in less than three months. Using the website during COVID-19 allowed residents to interact with the City digitally by adding more services requested by the community.

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“We built the website for our community — a digital City Hall that serves those who live, work, and play here on their terms, on any device, on any browser, at any time,” said Becky Jo Glover, Chief Customer Service and Innovation Officer. We are excited to have an easy-to-use solution that empowers our team to provide our citizens with a simple, elegantly designed experience when interacting with government that truly works for them.”

“As technology evolves, the value in agencies exceeding expectations and not just delivering on ‘government as usual’ continues to grow,” said Kevin Goodwin, Chief Technology Officer of the City of San Antonio. “With people now increasingly relying on virtual forms of connection with their governments, user-centric design is imperative to effectively provide critical services and build trust with citizens. Having easy-to-use solutions built with the user in mind that can be implemented quickly has enabled San Antonio to consistently put the needs of our community first and deliver greater results.”

Today’s announcement reinforces Accela’s commitment to delivering modern digital tools to help build thriving communities, now and in the future. Powered by Microsoft Azure, Accela’s secure and flexible SaaS solutions equip governments with the resources to quickly respond to evolving community needs, increase efficiency, and maintain resilience. More than half of Accela state and local customers are now in the cloud, underscoring the increasing importance of SaaS technology for navigating modern governance.

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