How technology can help government agencies during COVID-19

by Staff Writer

An unprecedented pandemic and economic recession are happening across our country, and citizens are looking for help and leadership from state and local officials. As they seek resources and answers to their questions and concerns, government offices are seeing a deluge of emails, calls, and website traffic.

Providing constituents with the most current and accurate answers isn’t easy. You’ve got challenges of your own, addressing the healthcare crisis and an economic crisis, while keeping the business of government operating. And you’re doing a good job. A recent poll found that 70 percent of Americans think their state and local governments are doing a good job responding to the coronavirus.

Unfortunately, information and statistics are in constant flux, and physical distancing puts a strain on collaboration. All of this adds to the stress of an already stressful situation. Technology can help address these challenges by replacing outdated manual practices with systems that improve and speed up the flow of information.

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Knock down silos between people and systems

State and local government officials must always work together to get their constituents the resources and help they need. Physical distancing and remote working arrangements for some departments, however, can create silos that stop the flow of information and hinder the ability to work as a cohesive team.

In normal times, silos can be disruptive, but in a pandemic they can be harmful. The responsibility of responding to the crisis is increasingly the burden of states and municipalities. Not having access to essential insights, for example, could result in the failure to put in place adequate amounts of services or supplies necessary to protect citizens.

Cloud-based technologies and unified digital platforms can help employees overcome the challenges that happen when systems become siloed. Employees can access workflows through their web browser from any location at any time. And having a common source of information helps agencies improve collaboration by simplifying file sharing and eliminating the version-control issues that can waste time and resources.

Ordering and tracking personal protective equipment (PPE), for example, could benefit from efficient collaboration by providing a way for government and healthcare officials to work together and share information. Digital platforms can set up automatic notifications, such as when supplies reach a critical level, to help coordinate the timely purchase and delivery of inventory.

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Put everyone on the same page

The numbers around the coronavirus are changing rapidly, with data that is collected from a variety of agencies. This creates a challenge for officials who need the latest data to make the best decisions regarding the safety of their constituents. State and local government offices must also have a system for sharing real-time information so employees can provide accurate answers to citizen questions, such as timelines for reopening businesses or regulations around wearing masks in public.

Centralized work management platforms can provide a single source of truth for government officials and empower employees by providing access to the most current information available. Shared dashboards give team members real-time insights, saving time—and potentially lives—by increasing visibility, especially in the field. For example, an information hub for incident response teams can help workers respond to emergencies promptly, with a standardized approach.

Centralized platforms also help improve accountability by providing a way to assign citizen-centric tasks, such as closing or reopening public spaces or enforcing regulations. Offices can set up automated notifications to remind employees of upcoming changes in state or local rules, which can help employees make timely decisions as well as keep priorities within their sights.

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Quickly scale for unprecedented demand

As the situation around COVID-19 continues to change rapidly, state and local governments are seeing a need to quickly scale their operations to serve their constituents. Government agencies are facing an unprecedented amount of requests for services, and they are often operating with limited resources, including time as colleagues must care for family or even their personal health. Citizens, however, expect accessible and responsive services, and their expectations are rising. Outdated processes can hinder agencies from effectively serving constituents.

Collaborative work management platforms can help to take the burden off of already taxed employees by effortlessly scaling information intake. For example, essential business requests, unemployment filing, and emergency business loan applications can be captured online, allowing employees to more efficiently track and manage information without requiring manual input. Automated intake helps free up employees for their most important job, helping the citizens of their communities.

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Lead the way

Uncertain times create an uncertain future, one that is sure to bring new challenges. Citizens are looking to you for leadership. COVID-19 has proved how vital state and local government services are in the health and wellbeing of all citizens.

By putting in place technology that streamlines the processes behind these services, state and local government officials can handle each new day as it comes with the resilience and resources they need. Smartsheet is the secure collaborative work management platform used by governments around the world to promote collaboration, visibility and scalability.

Download the free report “A Digital Transformation Report: 5 Ways to Lead Your Government Operations Into the Dynamic Future” for more information on how your agency can better serve constituents with technology.

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