State-of-the-art public access and the city of the future


We live in a world where immediate and easy access to information is a standard expectation. Citizens of your city have similar expectations for accessing city’s municipal services. Citizens expect municipal services to be easy to understand and accessible from anywhere using any device. Once you have a defined service delivery model in your city, the following steps will guide you to develop a state of the art public access to municipal services that exceeds your citizens’ expectations.

Develop an “Outside In” perspective for access to city services

An “Outside In” perspective should be founded in making access to municipal services intuitive for the citizens. Access includes requesting new services, understanding expected time to fulfill the request, and receiving communication regarding the status of ongoing requests.

It’s important to develop access that is intuitive for your citizens; citizens relate accessing municipal services to their personal experiences of consuming those services. Additionally, incorporate the unique preferences of your citizens as you develop the access to the city services. Once access is based on the “citizen experience”, accessing city services will be intuitive for your citizens.

Provide access through multiple channels

Your city should provide citizens access to municipal services through multiple channels, e.g. digital access through various devices, voice access through telephone and apps, and in person access. It is important that all channels provide a consistent experience as there will be instances when citizens initiate a request through one channel and complete the request through another.

Furthermore, citizens might have preferences for different channels based on the type of request. Channel consistency also includes developing physical layouts in municipal offices that mirror the citizen’s digital experience (e.g. the permitting office is near the planning and zoning office).

For citizens that do not have access to technology, provide increased digital access by adding kiosks at existing city facilities (such as libraries).

Establish self-service capabilities

When an intuitive and consistent multi-channel access is established, your city should provide citizens with self-service capabilities for appropriate services. Self-service is optimal for services with low complexity such as accessing records and submitting requests. Protect the citizens from any unintended risks (e.g. identify theft) by incorporating appropriate technology security in the self-service access. Self-service capabilities will provide a dual service benefit for your city: enabling faster access for citizens and allowing city employees to better spend their time on complex issues that cannot be resolved through self-service.

Collect data at the point of delivery

Continuous improvement of city services can only be achieved by reviewing performance data during execution of services. Your city should collect data at the point of delivery to resolve issues in real time and identify any issues that may be systemic. Identifying these issues earlier in the process will help your city to react and resolve them faster.

If any services are provided by contractors, your city needs to ensure performance data for those services is captured in the identical fashion as all other services. Data collected at the point of delivery also enables your city to continuously update expected demand and resolution times for various services.

Create employee experience similar to citizen experience

As your city optimizes the public access to municipal services based on the citizen experience, it is important that the city employee experience mirrors the citizen experience as well. Employees should have identical technology interfaces as citizens for accessing municipal services. This will not only enable employees to address any citizen questions faster, but will also create a culture where city employees can proactively identify improvements.

Leverage technology to enable access

Your city needs to implement technology embedded in “single source of truth” (storing every data element only once) to support the capabilities listed above. “Single source of truth” technology creates a single data point for a citizen request that can originate from any of the channels. If channel switching occurs, all other channels reference that initial data point to continue the request. This technology will enable a connected multi-channel experience for citizens, remove any duplicate processes, and create opportunities to increase automation.

In closing

Providing citizens with state of the art access to municipal services is an important step in realizing the vision for a city of the future. Leverage an “outside-in” view and technology to provide a consistent citizen experience that is unique to your city. An easy and intuitive access to municipal services will not only meet the needs of your citizens for accessing municipal services but will also encourage citizens to interact more with the city.

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The City of the Future

Jas Gaurav Singh
Jas Gaurav Singh

Jas Gaurav Singh, MBA is a management consultant at BlumShapiro. Jas is passionate about various aspects of business transformation, especially those centered on the customer experience. His areas of expertise also include process improvement, change management, organizational design and strategic planning.

Curated by our regular contributor, James M. Kerr, the City of the Future is a nine-part series developed with the team at BlumShapiro intended to contribute to the thinking and management theory that underpins the transformational changes already taking shape in across towns and cities around the globe.