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Small city of Baldwin, GA with <5K residents reduces info calls to City Hall by 50%

Baldwin, GA, USA
ITsimple

Government Champion

City Clerk

Cost

Zero upfront cost to local government
Initial:
4 Thousand USD
Maintenance:
4 Thousand USD

Project Status

Operational since 2021

At a Glance

With a population under 5,000 residents, Baldwin’s small staff was still able to create a 'big city' online presence by replacing their outdated website with a communications solution including a modern website, improved publication processes, and services offerings with no additional IT support required.

Problem Addressed

The City of Baldwin had a very basic website that relied on WordPress, an open-source website framework with known security issues. After over 10 years of use, it was showing its age. It required manual code changes to make site updates, caused residents to receive numerous browser alerts whenever they visited it, and did not offer mobile-friendly options. This compounded the problems inherent with a lack of resources and an understaffed team. Most of the service request forms were manual Word or PDF forms, which limited their usefulness for citizens on-the-go who may want to report something like a broken streetlight. They also required more time to process on the part of city staff.

Subsequently, the City of Baldwin had problems communicating important information like water outages and public works repairs, and citizens had problems communicating issues to the City. Publishing the City Council and board meeting agendas, minutes, and audio/video recordings was very challenging and often impossible. Residents had trouble finding even basic information, which led to large call volumes to City Hall (90% of which were routed directly to the City Clerk). This also led the City to become over-reliant on their Facebook account to share information, causing the residents who don't use Facebook, for privacy or other reasons, to miss important announcements. The city needed a way to post important information across its many distribution channels for its citizens to easily access, as well as ensure that feedback and service request tools for residents were convenient to use. The city needed a way to post important information across its many distribution channels for its citizens to easily access, as well as ensure that feedback and service request tools for residents were convenient to use.

City of Baldwin used/is using SpotlightCMS with It’sMyTown to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

Although smaller in size than other communities, the City of Baldwin was able to upgrade to an enterprise-grade website that greatly improved their ability to communicate important information to their residents while also not breaking their budget. The City partnered with ITsimple to create a new secure and ADA compliant modern website with a refreshed design that provided better access to both information and services. The upgrade process was collaborative, with ITsimple representatives providing support to the City Clerk during every step, including visiting the city to take photos for the new website.

ITsimple helped the City of Baldwin not just upgrade their website, but also implement a new communications and publications solution that enabled them to quickly and easily share important information with their residents. Previously, site updates required manual code changes which led to an overreliance on Facebook as a communication solution. It was a time-consuming process and slow to provide critical information when necessary. But with SpotlightCMS, the city can now quickly and easily make content changes to the site and simultaneously publish those changes across all their social media accounts from one user-friendly dashboard. And they can do it with no IT support required.

SpotlightCMS pairs with free end-user apps like It’sMyTown and CityGuards that put information and services in one location for residents and make it far easier for them to engage and find the information they need. The apps are freely available from Apple and Google app stores and help build a sense of community and support local engagement. Unlike other online platforms, no registration is required to use It’sMyTown by ITsimple and no personal information is gathered or stored, eliminating privacy concerns for residents and liability risk for municipalities.

Outcomes

  1. Over 50% reduction in incoming information request calls made to City Hall
  2. 100% online presence. The city can easily manage its new ADA-compliant website, a native mobile app with It’sMyTown, and portal integration to Facebook, through a single dashboard.
  3. 100% government transparency. Increased transparency with residents, as required coverage of public meeting agendas, minutes, and recordings, are now publicly accessible through the website.
  4. One (1) unified platform to manage all things engagement in one place including public surveys and polls
  5. Zero (0) technical knowledge required to operate. Only one (1) training session was needed

Lessons Learned

  1. Small companies can provide the same quality as a more established firm while also doing it more affordably and with better customer service.
  2. Having a secure web site and not storing user data can save many compliance headaches and fines that result from a breach.

Something Unique

ITsimple believes in extraordinary customer service, both in how they treat their customers and in how they enable governments to serve their citizens with better information and access to services. When Baldwin's staff didn't have a resource available to take HD images, they sent a member of their team to do it for them! They will go to whatever lengths it takes to ensure their customers can offer the same level of customer service to their residents.

Who Should Consider?

Any small or midsize local government looking to upgrade their website and improve resident communications and engagement with a real online presence.

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