Making the case for robust communications at the local agency level

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Highlights

The following key points are discussed in this article about digital communications systems for government agencies:

  • The importance of modernized digital communications to execute a citizen-first approach to government
  • Leveraging ARPA and Infrastructure funds allocated toward technology infrastructure and broadband expansion
  • Reasons why cloud-based solutions optimize scalability, adaptability, and security in your digital communications

👀  👀Why do 56.7% of state and local agencies surveyed feel their citizen engagement and communications are very important? Grab our government research report to get the whole story.

👀  👀 Learn how the public sector is moving to cloud communications to better meet the expectations of the communities they serve.

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Government offices and agencies have long lagged behind the private sector in terms of innovation and evolution. Unfortunately, delays in advancing technology also lead to delays in optimizing the execution of your primary responsibilities. 

Communications is one area where technology has advanced significantly in recent years. The importance of communication in delivering an optimized experience, whether in a public or private organization, has increased as well.

The following is a look at why access to American Rescue Plan Act and Infrastructure Bill funding makes now an ideal time to boost your communications infrastructure to serve your community in the most effective way.

Why digital communications matter

To recognize the importance of modernizing your agency’s communications system, you must first realize the citizen-centric nature of your purpose. Increasingly, federal, state, and local governments are shifting their cultural orientations to prioritize the needs and experiences of the people they serve.

The people you serve function in a digital-centric communications world that is long-established in the private sector. The more comprehensive digitization has become in people’s lives, the more jarring it is when certain government systems are antiquated. For citizens, delays in digital adaptation and the perception that there is limited concern for constituent interests are closely aligned.

In contrast, investing in your digital infrastructure and communications system demonstrates a commitment to the public. It helps you develop or improve trust, and enhances the relationships you want with community members. Building trust, and improving your communication, ties directly into improved community engagement.

Prioritizing ARPA and Infrastructure funds

One of the reasons that now is the ideal time to upgrade your local agency’s communications system is the unique access you have to relief and infrastructure funding. The American Rescue Plan Act and the November 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill both allocated funds toward digital infrastructure and expanded broadband access.

Due to the rare funding access, many local governments have been pushing digitization to the top of their project schedules. Ironically, investing in better communications should lead to improved efficiency in budget utilization for other projects to follow.

Broadband internet expansion means that local government agencies and community members have more universally-reliable access. This point is important due to increased emphasis on equitable service in government operations. It allows your local agency to communicate through all popular digital channels to reach your constituents.

A government agency employee is happy to have internet access. Using laptop at her desk.

Communications project considerations

If you decide to invest in a more robust communications system, it is important to consider your goals and objectives to do it the right way. Communication technology is only useful to the extent that it equips your people with the tools they need to implement your communications strategies. 

The following are some points to keep in mind as you look to optimize your communications system for your agents and your citizens:

  • Cloud-based solutions: Modern communications platforms are cloud-based. The data is hosted and stored by a third-party provider. As opposed to on-premise solutions, a cloud provider reduces your infrastructure requirements, allows for cost-efficient scalability, and optimizes security.
  • Adaptable support: With a cloud solution, your agents can facilitate inbound and outbound communications whether they are in an office or on the go. This mobile flexibility improves collaboration between on-site employees and those in the field and ensures the most timely responses to public needs.
  • Integration with existing systems: Data analytics and business intelligence are other areas in which government agencies are playing catch-up to the private sector. Integrating your digital communications platform with other business systems allows you to build a more holistic tech infrastructure. A cloud communications solution simplifies your ability to gather feedback data from the public. It is also easy to track and organize notes on interactions with citizens.
  • Advanced security: Privacy and security are critical to the operations of local government agencies. To share sensitive documents and information, it is imperative that you have extreme confidence in the security protocols of your platform. Best-in-class cloud-based communications systems feature multi-factor authentication, message encryption, and more of the most modern security measures.

How to get started

The first step in upgrading your communications system is to set your communications goals, and to outline common communications inflows and outflows. Doing so helps ensure you get the right platform to meet your long-term needs.

Assign a committee or a group of representatives to lead your digitization effort and sourcing of a digital communications system. This team should evaluate how private sector organizations or other government entities are using communications systems effectively. 

Find the right digital communications system to meet your agency’s objectives. Plan resources and time to train your personnel on the updated system. This is an often overlooked aspect of a major technology overhaul. Also consider the cultural shift needed. Technology plays an important role, but your ability to optimize communications with the communities you serve is only possible if your culture supports it.

An impressive entrance and grand staircase within a government building
UP NEXT: How government agencies can overcome procurement challenges to benefit from the Infrastructure Bill and ARPA funding

Modernize your communications with RingCentral

The importance of communications technology in meeting or exceeding the needs of your citizens cannot be overstated. The ability to apply rare government funding to IT upgrades makes now the right time to prioritize this type of project.

RingCentral offers all of the benefits you need in a best-in-class unified communications solution. It facilitates more effective and efficient interactions across all popular communications channels, improved collaboration inside and between agencies, and top privacy and security for constituent and agency data. See our government solutions in action when you get a demo.

Originally published May 17, 2022

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