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How One Local Gov Is Going Digital for Better Citizen Engagement

Govs love to learn from each other. So it’s no surprise that the most well-attended sessions at the 2019 ICMA conference in Nashville, Tennessee, were those highlighting the real-world experiences of actual government leaders.

One of those packed sessions featured veteran CIO Michele Williams of Culver City, California. She took the stage with Granicus CEO, Mark Hynes, and shared her insights and experience for improving citizen engagement.

ICMA attendees watching presentation

A packed room at the 2019 ICMA Conference where Michele Williams of Culver City shared insights.


During the session, Michele and Mark tackled an issue that government leaders must deal with: How does government remain relevant in the current environment of rapid and perpetual change? And how do they do it without increased resources?

They weren’t the only ones trying to answer this question. The topic came up in many ways and in many places throughout the conference. Theoretically, leaders agree. They know that to connect with residents and meet their expectations, they need to have a dynamic digital presence in place that stands in some proximity with the Googles and Amazons of the world.

During Michele’s presentation, she shared how Culver City is putting that theory into practice without turning the budget upside down.

How does government remain relevant in the current environment of rapid and perpetual change? And how do they do it without increased resources?

How Culver City Is Going Digital, Engaging Citizens

Culver City has three core drivers for delivering enhanced citizen engagement.

  • Be transparent.  Give citizens equal & easy access to the civic process.
  • Digitize.  Move interaction from in-person to digital and empower staff.
  • Connect.  Send topics and issues that concern community members through targeted communications.

To help meet these goals and engage citizens, the City is using a variety of digital tools as part of the Granicus Civic Engagement Platform.

Communications That Truly Engage

Michele believes that great communications have the potential to create deeper connections — so as long as you give residents the experience they expect. It starts with the right tools. At Culver City, they use govDelivery Communications Cloud to send 2.7M messages in the last year, reaching 24,000 residents who subscribe to the topics they’re most interested in. With this combination, they’ve been able to measure an impressive 57% engagement rate, which  beats government benchmarks by 12%.

Website That Residents Love

What if you have a website your residents actually love? To make this happen, Michele said to step away from an information-centric website consisting of static pages and toward a citizen-centric website providing an interactive experience for end-users. At Culver City, they have a mobile-friendly  govAccess website  serving 4,300 daily page views to 1,800 daily visitors. The web presence is enhanced with a community feedback tool (getting over 200 daily visits) that provides a channel for two-way interaction with citizens. It helps Michele and others see and hear the pulse of the community.

Better, Easier Public Meetings

To streamline the public meeting process and improve the experience for citizens, Michele and the team at Culver City are using  govMeetings  solutions. With them, they’re able to automate much of the workflow for agenda management for their average 2.5 weekly meetings. Even better, they’re able to publish meeting minutes online with video. Citizens can click on meeting items and skip around to the information they’re most interested in. Culver City has also digitized the board and commissions process. They’re able to fill vacancies quicker and from a more diverse pool of applicants.

Online Portal for Digital Services

The latest digital transformation that Michele and Culver City are undertaking relates to  digital government services  delivery. They want to provide easier access for citizens to make service requests. At the same time, they want to make it much easier to deliver those services. They’re using  govService  to make that happen. From yard sales permits to business registrations to bulky item pickup and much more, they’re giving citizens a single online portal for interfacing with government service providers.

[Related Podcast: Michele Williams On Her Transformative Work in Culver City]

Bringing It All Together

Delivering a better connection between government and citizens without undermining city budgets? Michele and Culver City prove it’s possible. They’ve been able to deliver on the promise of government digital transformation by focusing on one strategic area at a time. The results so far are inspiring.

Want to Learn More About Culver City’s Solutions?

Contact Granicus experts today  to learn how you can bring smart digital solutions to your local government — and from a single trusted technology partner.