Can digital solutions help government employees who work in the field, or are they only for employees who work in the office?
Digital solutions are helping local governments transform the way they work. However, it is common for people to assume that digital solutions are only for people that work at a desk. That is a common misconception about digital solutions. There are lots of ways to utilize digital solutions even when you are away from a desk and working out in the community. By-law officers, parks and recreation staff, and maintenance crews are just some of the community workers who are benefitting from digital solutions despite being away from their desks often. Digital transformation is making it possible for community workers to do their job more efficiently and effectively by properly leveraging digital solutions. We are going to take a look at 3 examples of how digital solutions can help members of local governments even when they are away from their desks.
1. Increase efficiency for code enforcement
By-law officers and code enforcement officers are often out in the community enforcing city regulations. In the past, this meant a lot of paperwork and time spent going back to the office to input data. Now, digital solutions allow by-law officers to fill out forms electronically which saves time and money. Additionally, digital solutions make it possible for by-law officers to take pictures and videos of code violations which can be stored electronically for easy access and reference. This helps to increase efficiency and effectiveness for by-law officers.
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say a by-law officer is out in the community and notices some graffiti at a local playground. Instead of having to take note of the incident, go back to the office. fill out the required paperwork to repost the graffiti, and request that the graffiti be cleaned. With the help of digital solutions, the by-law officer can now take pictures of graffiti and then report it to the city and request a clean-up instantly from out in the field. The digital solution can also be used to track when graffiti is removed. This helps to ensure that the city is keeping its community clean and helps by-law officers be more efficient, making it possible to do more with the time they have each day. By eliminating redundant tasks, and reducing the need to return to the office, digital solutions can positively impact the way local governments monitor, report, and follow up with infractions in their community.
2. Assist parks and maintenance staff
Parks and recreation staff are responsible for maintaining the city parks and the outside of city buildings. This includes tasks such as mowing the lawn, trimming trees, and checking playgrounds. It also includes winter maintenance such as snow plowing, shoveling, and sanding or salting icy areas. In the past, these workers would often have to use manual methods to do their job which was not only time-consuming but could also be dangerous. Now, with digital solutions, there are new ways to do things that are both efficient and effective. For example, digital solutions can be used for GPS mapping which helps parks and recreation staff know where they have already been as well as which areas still need to be tended to. Another benefit to these digital solutions is that you can have valuable data to prove certain maintenance items have been completed.
For example, in the wintertime, it is common to have longer periods of snowfall that create slippery sidewalks, snow-covered parking lots, and icy public stairways or walkways. It is the responsibility of the city to ensure these areas are cleared of snow and ice to the best of their ability so no one slips and gets hurt. It is however a reality that after tending to certain areas, snow may continue to fall making them slippery and dangerous again although the city has already been there to maintain the area once. Sometimes, in this case, the city may get accused of not maintaining the area at all, however, that is not the case. With the help of digital solutions, local governments will be able to see exactly when the area was maintained, how long the crew member was there, and exactly which sections of the area were tended to. By having that data available, it is easier for city maintenance crews to show that they are doing their work properly, responsibly, and to the best of their abilities.
3. Improving communication with office workers and workers in the field
In the past, it was often difficult for office workers and workers in the field to communicate with each other. This was because they were not always in the same location, and it was not always possible to get in touch with each other right away. With digital solutions, this is no longer an issue. There are now digital solutions that allow workers in the field and workers in the office to communicate at the touch of a button. This improves efficiency and allows office staff to communicate urgent matters to staff members in the field which can be helpful for a number of reasons.
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say there is a code enforcement officer who is out in the field reviewing a request for a building permit in a local neighborhood. While that code enforcement officer is there, a house in the same neighborhood files an urgent request to rebuild a shed on their property that was damaged during a storm. In the past, the code enforcement officer would have finished the review for the building permit and then returned back to the office, only to find the addition request in the same neighborhood they were just at. Then they would have to get ready and travel back to the same neighborhood to review the second request, wasting time for both themselves and the constituent who filed the request.
Thanks to digital solutions, that is no longer an issue. Instead, the office worker would simply send a message to the code enforcement officer while they are in the field and let them know instantly that there is another request nearby. They are also able to instantly send them any information they need about the request, and any files they may need to fill out pertaining to the request, all without having to return to the office. This makes it easy for code enforcement officers to tend to as many issues and requests in the community as fast as possible and it helps office staff tend to matter quickly and follow up with ease.
Digital solutions have helped to change the way local governments operate and the way they serve their communities. By digitizing many of the tasks that need to be completed, local government employees are able to work more efficiently and serve their community better. In addition, digital solutions have also improved communication between office staff and workers in the field, making it easier for them to collaborate and get tasks done more quickly. All of this has helped to make local governments more efficient and responsive to the needs of their communities while utilizing their resources more efficiently.
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About the authors:
Hannah is a professional content creator and writer. After graduation from the Public Relations program at Cambrian College, Hannah has gone on to start a successful freelance writing career. She is passionate about bringing words to life in a way that makes complicated topics more approachable. From website content to full articles, Hannah loves to find ways to communicate with any audience effectively. She currently lives and works in Sudbury Ontario.
Joseph founded INVORG focusing on a client-centric service delivery platform for innovating local organizations, not-for-profits, home and community support organizations, and small to medium-sized businesses. Joseph holds a Chief Information Officer Certification from Carnegie Melon University, USA, and from the US General Services Administration. He is an IT veteran with over 20 years of leadership in technology, including four years as CTO for the city of London.