Note: This article by Susan Cable originally appeared in the February 2012 of American City and County

Access to government drives engagement. The more opportunities residents have to participate in civic activities and discussions, and the more channels available through which they may participate, the better connected they will be to their government agencies and representatives.

A well-run, city or county contact center can centralize customer service and offer residents a variety of channels to communicate with their government, including live agent, Web, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), mobile and social media. Those technologies are not only being used by big and affluent jurisdictions. Thanks to open source software, interoperability and portability, mapping and location-based services, low-cost mobile and no-cost social media, all shapes and sizes of local government can expand access to people, data and services.

Multi-channel contact centers generate citizen engagement by matching technology tools to community demographics and popular devices. Engagement in a community may be boosted through free mobile apps, wireless public kiosks or grant-funded public computers at libraries and senior centers.

More uses for increased data

Recent elections have demonstrated the power and communication value of new media technologies. The reach of text messages and social media postings can be compounded by a variety of community networks when residents forward information to friends, families and co-workers.

Read the full article here

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