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