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

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

Webinar Recap: How Targeted Messaging Increases Engagement

Getting information in the right hands at the right time can be critical to the effectiveness of a message. Granicus’ Targeted Messaging Service (TMS) balances the delicate “signal versus noise” issue many communications teams struggle with: how to keep people informed on what is relevant without overwhelming them with “noise,” or extra information that clogs the messaging pipeline.

During the TMS: Transactional Messaging webinar on November 7, Granicus Technical Implementation Consultant Richard Fong and Solutions Engineer Shawn Pillow highlighted how personalized messages, or one-to-one messaging, expands an organization’s reach, whether it’s through routine updates or in the case of critical information dissemination. One-to-one messaging is tailored to the recipient through GovDelivery Communications Cloud, even in cases of high volume messaging like during a large scale crisis or when trying to reach groups of license holders about upcoming expirations.

How does it work?

TMS is a pure Application Programming Interface (API) product that facilitates the exchange and integration of data. “It can and does provide a richer and better user experience,” Fong said. “API is everywhere, and you, as a consumer, encounter it every day.”

Powerhouses like Google, Twitter and Amazon use APIs to embed features on their sites or make products more accessible. TMS uses APIs to provide access to Granicus’ sending and processing infrastructure.

TMS’s scalability and metric reporting sets it apart as an industry gold standard. As an automated messaging system, TMS can be scaled for a small handful of readers or millions of recipients. Afterwards, the software collects data on how many inboxes were successfully hit, along with open and click data to paint a picture of how efficient the messaging style was.

Who does it serve?

“Being able to connect with an audience consistently at a huge scale lets [organizations] make a real impact,” Pillow explained.

As an example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wanted to increase the number of citizens taking action on recalled vehicles. With only 70 percent of recalled vehicles ever being repaired, it became a critical matter of life or death. By implementing TMS through GovDelivery Communications Cloud, the NHTSA saw a 1,700 percent increase in subscribers to recall notifications in August of 2017 alone. Since implementing the Communications Cloud software, the NHTSA has continued to see 10 times more subscriptions to updates per month.

“Getting the right information in the right hands can be a life saver,” Pillow said. And, while some information can be the difference between a safe drive home and becoming another statistic in road collisions, TMS has obvious email, voice and text messaging applications for everyday activities like appointment reminders, license renewals and bill payment reminders.

Making life more automated through targeted messaging not only improves business processes, but simplifies consumer’s lives, making them more likely to trust the companies and governments that serve them.

How is TMS implemented?

Improving the customer and employee experience requires no extra work with Granicus’ Communications Cloud TMS implementation. With ReST (Representational State Transfer) architecture, developers can implement TMS into their framework of choice (Python, Java, Ruby, etc).

Template features help define the body and subject of the message beforehand, decreasing bandwidth requirements and improving high volume send rates. “We’ve updated our template capability to allow for smart templates which include if/then branch logic,” Fong added.

API Graphic

TMS’s success relies on its deliverability and security to be considered a reliable resource for organizations. Messages sent through TMS are not sorted into a promotional or spam folder, but head directly to the recipients inbox, making it a priority to be seen. As a FedRAMP-compliant software, the data in Communications Cloud used for TMS is protected from malware.

Targeted messaging has multiple applications for local, statewide and federal agencies. If you missed the TMS webinar on November 7, catch it on demand here. For more information about targeted messaging, be sure to connect with us at info@granicus.com.

This post was originally published on Granicus.com