At one point or another, every community faces times of crisis. Extreme weather conditions, health emergencies, economic downturns – the reasons vary. But great leadership will seize those moments to evaluate, learn, and find a way forward to a more prepared and vibrant future.
These past several months as the COVID-19 pandemic has spread, we’ve all discovered how critical it is to be able to quickly respond and pivot when emergencies strike. It’s created an unprecedented urgency for innovative thinking and flexibility, and has focused many on their own ability to be resilient.
Resiliency: Moving Forward in Times of Adversity
Being resilient is more than abiding by the old adage of ‘pulling yourself up by your bootstraps’ and forging on. That saying implies that you can do it alone without hesitation or thought. But crises of the COVID-19 magnitude require putting a hand out (figuratively, of course), collaborating with peers and experts, and creating a plan forward.
It also involves rethinking processes and how information is shared and communicated. And finding ways to adapt how work gets done.
Taking the Technology Leap
Traditionally, much of the interaction with local government has been face-to-face. From stopping in at the Clerk’s office to drop off a tax payment or get a form to attending the town board meeting and commenting on the latest proposed zoning change, it’s primarily been in-person contact.
But almost overnight, all of that has changed. Board and department meetings have gone virtual using video-conferencing software. Paying taxes or other fees can be done online. Forms are available for download or even filling out on the municipal website. The leap to digital government has been dramatic, but not without some cuts and scrapes and bruising along the way.
Be Prepared For the Next Crisis
Even with the swift move from the brick and mortar city hall to the virtual world and all that local governments have been able to achieve in a short amount of time, one thing has become obvious. We all need to be better prepared for emergencies.
That preparedness factor includes implementing digital solutions that will not only make information more accessible, but that will also reduce strain on staff resources and ease pressure on budgets. It also includes putting training in place to help make the transition to digital work less stressful and more productive in a quicker amount of time.
Not to be overlooked is the need to have ordinances already in place that will support the ability of local government to respond rapidly to changing workforce and service logistics.
Even while so many communities remain in the thick of things when it comes to the pandemic, it’s important to embrace opportunities to collaborate and think forward. It is possible to bounce back stronger through innovative thought and good planning.
Seeking out solutions and partners that can support your community’s vision for the future is vital to rising up from this crisis and being prepared for the next. Whether it’s reaching out to a neighboring municipality or finding a service provider that knows and understands local government, we can all emerge from this pandemic and build thriving, resilient communities together.
Save These Dates and Join Us!
As part of our ongoing “Emerging Resilient” series, we’ll be hosting webinars on these relevant topics:
Engaging the Public in Virtual Meetings
2020: What Just Happened?
Essential Elements of Successful Zoning Codes
How Can We Help You?
In the meantime, if you have questions or want to learn more about how our services can help your community to be resilient, complete our Solution Inquiries form.
Municipal Clerks Feel Pressure to Modernize as COVID-19 Persists (Government Technology)
Gilbert, AZ gets creative with its digital strategy during COVID-19 (SmartCitiesDive)
Local government innovation and the art of failing forward (Cities Today)
The Pandemic Is Turbo-charging Government Innovation: Will It Stick? (Knowledge @ Wharton)