Unsupported Browser

We've detected an older browser version that will not give you the best experience while using The Atlas. Please consider revisitng this site after downloading one of the alternatives below.

Crisis communications on a budget in the City of South Fulton

The City of South Fulton

South Fulton, GA

The City of South Fulton, GA is updating residents with urgent information regarding COVID-19 - including local business openings - through a paired user application and content management platform. The same platform has enabled the city to provide online access to municipal services and online payment.

Topics Covered

Transparency
Civic Technology
Customer Service

Cost

Initial: 1.5 Thousand USD

O&M: 20 Thousand USD

Funding

State and local grants

Social Impact Bond

Advertising Revenue

Project Status

Operational since 2022

Gov Champion

Gary Leftwich, Communications Director

Problem Addressed

COVID-19 forced the City of South Fulton to look for ways to better deliver time-sensitive updates and information to its residents.

Like many local governments, Covid-19 required the City of South Fulton to shift their communication and community engagement strategy to better meet the needs of their residents during a public health crisis.

They realized they needed a better way to connect their constituents to vital information and services during the pandemic, one that could be leveraged to inform their residents of changes in community status, relay the latest safety measures and recommendations, and post official communications from government representatives. Like most other cities, they needed to do it without increasing their IT budget, requiring additional IT support, or impacting their productivity. And if possible, they needed to support struggling local businesses while doing so.

Fifty-four percent of citizens now expect government services to be offered online and 30% of citizens expect those processes to become simpler. ITsimple enabled the City of South Fulton to meet both of these demands and do so during difficult and challenging times. With a population of 99,155, the City of South Fulton is the 8th largest city in the state of Georgia. Bordering Atlanta from the south and west, it's the 3rd largest city in the biggest county in the state, giving it outsized regional influence and prominence.

Solutions Used

Implementation of a web and app-based engagement system enabled South Fulton to keep its residents informed with real-time updates. 

The City of South Fulton partnered with ITsimple to create a reliable and trusted method of crisis communication for their citizens that allowed them to update their community in real-time with urgent information regarding the pandemic, provide online access to municipal services and bill pay opportunities, and support local businesses by communicating their availability and status.

“As our efforts to ensure the safety of residents continue to evolve, sometimes daily, the app and publication platform allows us to communicate those changes to residents directly and immediately,” said City Manager Odie Donald II. “This is another way we are leveraging technology to provide world-class service to those who live and work in our city.”

ITsimple helped the City of South Fulton create a communication and public engagement solution geared to match the needs of the ‘new normal.’ Publication of content is easy, efficient, and effective via SpotlightCMS, ITsimple's turnkey community engagement solution. SpotlightCMS is a real-time community engagement platform that enables the management of multiple publication channels - mobile, web, and all social media presences - from one user-friendly dashboard and single data entry point. It saves both time and resources and puts vital information where it needs to be - in the hands of their residents in the avenues they already use to access information.

SpotlightCMS pairs with a free end-user app, It’sMyTown, that puts information and services in one location for city residents and makes it far easier for them to engage and find the information they need. It’sMyTown is freely available from Apple and Google app stores, has no privacy concerns or social media dependency because no registration is required and no personal information is gathered or stored, and helps build a sense of community and support local engagement. The City of South Fulton was quickly able to reach 1,000 residents with minimal advertising and effort, and the user base continues to grow.

“ITsimple helped us provide timely information to our residents concerning Covid, communicate concerns and changes in real-time, and to preserve resources and budget while doing so.” -Melanie Winfield, Assistant City Manager, City of South Fulton.

Outcomes

1

The city was able to localize their crisis communications to reflect the needs of their unique circumstances and constituent needs, and build community engagement while doing so.

2

The city was quickly able to reach over 1000 residents and support their rapidly expanding user base.

3

The city can simultaneously publish all their content updates across their website, app, and social media presences when information changes rapidly, saving them both time and money

4

Since SpotlightCMS has no back-end IT requirements, the City of South Fulton was able to conserve its IT resources both financially and in terms of maintenance and support.

Lessons Learned

1

The public responds well to an official mobile app that doesn't require registration or collect personal user information.

2

A responsive website doesn't have the same essential features as a mobile app. Notifications, location and camera based services, mobile calendars navigation apps integrations and more.

3

When the city checked the percentage of traffic to its official website from mobile devices, it was clear that a mobile app had to be part of the communications strategy and budget.

4

Today's technologies can deliver mobile capabilities to cities with no technical skills or infrastructure required on their part.

Something Unique

Setup took just a couple days and required no IT support from the City, as SpotlightCMS is a cloud-based software as a service (SaaS).

Who Should Consider

Local governments who need to implement effective crisis communications on a budget, streamline their content publication, and improve their community engagement.

Last Updated

Mar 23rd, 2022

More resources about this case study

More Local Gov Case Studies from The Atlas Database
The Atlas case study database features examples of city projects – including both earth-moving projects and installed technologies – from around the world. You will not find proposed projects, or links to research studies and planning documents. There are 500+ member submitted case studies to browse - see related case studies to this one below:
Browse All Case Studies