Let it snow! Inclement weather drives engagement with the public

By Kathy Kyle, Digital Communications Consultant, GovDelivery UK

The whole of the United Kingdom experienced a week of widespread travel disruptions and school closures due to unusually inclement weather.  The extended forecast promises additional wintry, blizzard-like conditions – with as much as seven inches of snow, rain and ice over the next week. One of the worst incidents reported was last Wednesday, when 30 people were forced to spend the night in a shelter after becoming stranded when the A39 between Bridgwater and Williton in Somerset became impassable.

More than ever, it is critical that government agencies at the national and local level efficiently and effectively alert local residents about floods, school closures, and road and mass transit disruptions.

At GovDelivery, we are finding that the snow has had a tremendous impact on the uptake of subscribers to government services and information, with increases in local authority subscriptions topping 3900% this past week. In one day, West Sussex received 1,447 new subscribers interested in receiving alerts. As we expected, there was an upward trend in subscriptions to the Highways Agency (HA) and the Met Office, with increases in alert subscribers of up to 180%.

West Sussex County Council website

More compelling than the expected increase in subscribers to weather and transit-related services was the surge in citizens subscribing to central government organisations, whose missions are completely unrelated to the impact of extreme weather. For instance, the National Audit Office (NAO) experienced a 16% increase new subscribers over the latest snowy three-day period, and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) saw a 114% increase over the course of the same week.

This demonstrates the power of the GovDelivery Network, a bi-directional relationship formed between government organisations that use our integrated, seamless digital communications platform. Visitors have the opportunity to opt-in to alerts regarding a variety of government services. This cross-promotion of government services drives subscriptions, helping organisations reach dramatically more people, especially those who may have never known about or thought to search for a specific government topic.

Derbyshire County Council, who is using GovDelivery to reach more residents regarding school closures, experienced an increase of 956 subscribers in one day. Other councils – Sheffield, Herefordshire, and Crawley Borough – all experienced increases between 575% and 752%, with the majority of traffic to their websites coming from HA, the Met Office, and Department of Health.

With nearly 1.5 million subscribers in the UK alone (41 million worldwide), the GovDelivery Network not only drives engagement, but connects citizens to potentially life-saving information in an efficient, effective way through a simple, opt-in subscription process.

With pending severe weather across the country, it is more important than ever to leverage the GovDelivery ecosystem to maximise direct connections with citizens.

Learn more about how central government and local authorities are reaching more people.

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