Event Recap: Making Meetings More Efficient at Alaska’s Fisheries

Compiling, distributing and managing large quantities of agenda materials is strenuous on government staff at all levels. With Granicus’ Legistar and iLegislate, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) saves dozens of reams of paper and more than $30,000 annually in meeting-related costs.

February 13’s Seattle World Tour fireside chat with Granicus’ Director of Sales Jeff Schaefer and NPFMC’s Communications and IT Specialist Maria Shawback opened the discussion with the impact of efficient, paperless agenda tools on the daily and yearly operations of the organization.

“This solution really helped us,” Shawback said. “People can download documents onto their iPad and just take their tablet onto their boat, where there might not be internet access, wherever they are in Alaska, and have everything there. They can be more prepared for our council meetings. It’s been a game changer for us.”

NPFMC’s five annual council meetings can last up to 10 days, and previously required agenda packets averaging 750 pages each to accompany the meetings. The cost of distributing the information to the right people was cumbersome and time-consuming, especially when meeting information notoriously changes last minute and can require prolonged attention to detail.

By compiling information in Legistar and distributing it to members on the go via iLegislate, the agency is able to keep all meeting information accurate and accessible to the 80 to 100 council attendees who would have otherwise have used upwards of 60,000 sheets of paper per meeting.

“We have been mostly reliable with the web platform we use and I think as council members and the engaged public or even people who stop in for one issue in 10 years – they can get their information right online,” Shawback added.

Shawback also emphasized the impact of a thorough public record and how constituents benefit from having simplified access to voting records, upcoming meeting agendas and archived meeting information on multiple channels.

“Our audience is everybody,” Shawback said. “We wanted our information to be available and accessible to everyone, no matter what platform they choose.”

With the continued rise of smartphones, the importance of a multi-channel approach going forward takes precedence in digital engagement campaigns. Shawback’s advice to the dozens of agency officials in attendance was to remain nimble in their approach to distributing content. Constantly learning from different attempts to share meeting information has differentiated her agency from many others. After seeing low engagement on Twitter, Shawback said the NPFMC was quick to capitalize on different methods. For their organization, the simple presentation of downloadable documents best met constituent needs, allowing the agency to focus their approach for an optimized public portal to maintain engagement.

“The biggest takeaway we’ve learned is that it’s a constantly evolving process. We think we have it perfected, but things change,” Shawback concluded.

Want to learn more about how you can use Granicus solutions to improve digital engagement with citizens? Contact us at info@granicus.com.

This post was originally published on Granicus.com

Webinar Recap: Solutions for Special Districts

Special Districts face unique challenges in their autonomy. Operating separately from state, local and federal offices, they can struggle to meet transparency and accessibility demands from the public on a smaller budget.

Experts at Granicus joined a webinar hosted on Tuesday by the Special District Association of Colorado, to talk about the changing demands of a special district and how Granicus can help them identify solutions to stay compliant, transparent and proactive. View the presentation here.

The Special Districts Association of Colorado is a statewide membership organization for professionals involved in the development and operation of Colorado’s special districts. The association, formed in 1975, provides education, administrative support, legislative input and improved communication to nearly 2,000 members and associates.

As a partner, the association supports and recommends Granicus solutions to participating special districts around the state. The two organizations have been working in tandem since October 2017 to improve how Colorado’s special districts operate.

Increasing transparency and improving services are important for all special districts to maintain their agency as well as reputation in the communities they serve. Many constituents expect online tools for their government agencies, but Granicus solutions help special districts go one step further with proactive communication toolsthat reach constituents as soon as relevant information becomes available.

The Metropolitan Council, located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region of Minnesota, engages their audience with legislative tools available on their website. Meeting videos indexed and parsed to the council’s agenda give the public necessary tools to stay informed about what the organization is working on and prioritizing for the city. In addition, the council uses Granicus Interactive Text to stay in touch daily with constituents and drive two-way conversations.

“In addition to making it easy to find information about what was addressed during the course of a meeting, they want to put together a regular cadence of communication with their audience […] about what might impact the people they serve in their district,” Granicus Solutions Engineer Shawn Pillow said during Tuesday’s webinar.

With Granicus solutions, the Metropolitan Council maintains a thorough public record with excellent outbound communication to voters.

Other special districts around the country, like the Port of Tacoma in Washington, have benefited from extensive communications solutions that drive subscriptions and grow audiences. With the GovDelivery Network, the Port of Tacoma grew subscriptions by 268 percent and are able to drive consumers to other in-person services, like regular on-site bus tours.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) utilizes a widget and subscriber overlays on their website to capture extra email subscriptions. Their average subscriber receives updates for 10 topics.

While applications of Granicus solutions seem apparent for large districts like ports and transit systems, Shawn Pillow explained that smaller districts, even those serving less than 1,000 citizens, benefit greatly from robust tools. With budgets on the decline for all special districts and government agencies, the concept of “doing more with less” couldn’t be more important. When communication can be formatted for multiple channels at once, districts save valuable time. With advanced reporting tools and analytics on subscribers easily available, districts benefit from a single destination for all their communication needs.

Want to know more about how Granicus can help your special district succeed? We’d love to hear from you!

This post was originally published on Granicus.com

Granicus’ World Tour is Coming to Seattle

Granicus’ World Tour kicks off in Seattle on February 13. With leaders from the Granicus team paired with established clients who have successfully developed their public engagement processes and created a more efficient government, the Digital Engagement Day promises to deliver effective options for government organizers seeking to improve their day-to-day methods and messaging.

Attendees can learn from successful colleagues on harnessing the influence of channel shift-a strategy that involves moving away from analog technology and into more transparent, easier-to-manage digital tools. Proactive communication and government efficiency are key themes of the event, with thought leaders offering both examples of their methods and also driving attendees to action by finding ways to implement better, paperless government communication methods.

The event starts at 8:30 a.m. with a networking breakfast and will continue until 3:00 p.m. with networking opportunities for speakers, organizers and attendees. Lunch will be provided halfway through the event.

Granicus has long been a cloud solutions leader for the public sector. Thousands of agencies and over 150 million citizens rely on our services to simplify communications efforts and create an accessible and transparent government experience for all users.

Part of Granicus’ mission to improve the technology and lives of its users is a dedication to ongoing education through regular events around the United States and United Kingdom. These World Tour events give agencies the opportunity to both learn from Granicus leaders and from each other to build a strong, efficient and transparent government while building citizen engagement and strengthening software accessibility for all citizens.

Are you ready to improve how you engage with the public and network with other govies? Register now for our free event in Seattle today!

This post was originally published on Granicus.com

Webinar Recap: Public Sector Transparency Through Video

In the digital era, the effectiveness of the public sector increasingly relies on transparency with constituents. As younger generations start partaking in the political process, all levels of government face uncertainty with how to adapt.

Granicus’ Video Webinar on November 15 focused specifically on this issue and highlighted how governments can modernize their digital communications with little effort and manageable cost.

Reaching Young, Mobile Audiences

Recorded video that is available live and archived online for any medium—mobile or desktop—is demanded by the modern constituent.

Connection stats

In 2016, nearly 25 percent of households surveyed said they did not have cable streaming in their home, meaning the days of cable access and the popularity of watching local meetings live on television are waning. On-demand video is slowly replacing live television and cable subscriptions. Granicus Video indexing supports the ability to choose which parts of a program are most relevant and important, allowing citizens to start watching video where they feel compelled—much like a consumer can jump to any spot on their favorite Netflix show.

While videos are streaming and when they are later archived, they can be searched by agenda items from the automated indexing Granicus Video provides. Rather than watching a multiple-hour meeting to find a specific 10-minute clip, viewers are able to search the video for the point where their agenda items of interest are mentioned and simply watch on-demand.

Governments should take advantage of this technology by cross-promoting their meetings on personal or official social media sites to allow citizens, the media and internal government employees to have access instantly. This allows an increasingly tech-savvy audience to watch on their own time and frees up space in the meeting chamber.

Closed Captioning and ADA Compliance

Federal law protects people visually and audibly impaired so they can partake in public services, particularly with video. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires all internet video initially shown on television with captions be captioned when uploaded online. At the state level, these restrictions can be more stringent and specific around Section 508 standards, leaving organizations vulnerable if they don’t consider additional accessibility services for their content.

Closed and live captioning is available as an additional service for Granicus Video through meeting services. Captioning makes searching through indexed video easier for citizens and employees as it searches all spoken word captions for appropriate terms along with agenda items associated with pieces of the video clip. Most importantly, Closed Captioning makes video completely accessible for hearing-impaired individuals, who make up about 15 percent of American adults.

Streaming companies have been required to offer closed captioning on all programming since April 2014, and while the laws haven’t been applied to all online video streaming services, organizations who use captioning are able to implement it as a safeguard for themselves against future changes and to better serve their communities.

Building a More Efficient Government

Although video has clearly demonstrable benefits for citizens, employees who can’t attend meetings regularly and elected officials also benefit from live and archived online meetings as research tools.

For example, if one topic spans two different meetings, elected officials are able to go back to the first archived discussion and, with index tools, find the original conversation to use as reference while they prepare for the second half of the discussion. For employees who can’t attend late meetings or are restricted by the number of seats in the conference space, utilizing video can be an excellent way to stay abreast of important information or decisions.

Implementing captions with Granicus Video can also simplify post-meeting minutes creation, as all caption transcriptions are available to users after video is recorded.

The Technical Explanation

Granicus Video uses encoders that are currently available for almost any existing audio/video equipment. As a nearly universal service, Granicus’ servers work with both digital and analogue cameras and microphones to capture meetings as they happen and stream them in an iFrame on your organization’s website.

Granicus Video Image

Backed by a content delivery network (CDN) of more than 400 sites, Granicus’ streaming is backed up across hundreds of sites, allowing servers to access local data centers (the bread and butter of web-streaming) rather than rely on sites hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Granicus Video has extensive configurability and applications for local, statewide and federal agencies. If you missed the Granicus Video webinar on November 15, you can watch it on demand here. For more information on Granicus Video, be sure to connect with us at info@granicus.com.

This post was originally published on Granicus.com