Conference round up part 2: trends from 3CMA, NAGW and more

Last month, public sector leaders from around the country gathered to discuss the latest in best practices and trends across digital government. We’ll be bringing you the best of the best, and some of the hot topics taking over the public sector, pulled straight from these conferences on the blog (check out our last post on open data from the conference here). So if you didn’t get a chance to attend them all, or are just looking for a pulse on what’s happening right now in digital gov, read on!

Just Text Me: Mobile’s Growth and How to Get on Board

 As a fast-emerging and extremely effective communication channel, text messaging allows government organizations to interact with their communities in new and valuable ways.

In fact, so many organizations are recognizing the essential pairing of text messaging and email communications, that text messages sent through GovDelivery have more than doubled in the past year – and that number is growing.

At the National Association of Government Web Professionals (NAGW) conference, Code for America alumni Tamara Manik-Perlman explored some of the best ways to use text messaging in the public sector, along with a few tips on how to get started.

text alerts

We might be a little biased, but our favorite example from Tamara was a texting promotion launched by the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota. The city (no stranger to the occasional snowstorm) allows residents, tourists and businesses to text ST PAUL SNOW to GOV311 to sign up for snow emergency text and email alerts.

With this text to subscribe method, St. Paul can drive its target audience to register for updates via text message from virtually anywhere, regardless of whether they have internet access. Cellphone users can text a keyword and their email address or phone number to a designated short-code like GOV311, which will subscribe them to a specific set of information. Because the channel is mobile, cities can promote this sign-up option in physical or digital locations, wherever an audience lives, works, and plays (think bus stops, parks, golf courses, camp sites, on billboards and more).

Tamara’s main piece of advice on how to get started? Start small. Text messaging doesn’t have to stand on its own! It can be a strong complement to other services.  Because it’s great for drilling down into programs in specific offices, the easiest first step is to pick one program.

If your organization is interested in getting started with mobile, drop us a line at or let us know in the comments.

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