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Olathe, KS Takes its Community Engagement to the Next Level with a Civic Engagement Platform

Olathe, KS, USA

At a Glance

The City of Olathe, Kansas, set out to modernize the way its government operated. The city has undergone a digital transformation, emboldened by an integrated community engagement platform, which has helped Olathe become a more transparent, informative, and practical place for residents & staff members.

Problem Addressed

The Road to Digital Transformation

Olathe, KS is a part of the Kansas City metropolitan area and serves as the county seat in Johnson County. It’s a diverse city with a population of roughly 140,000 residents. Olathe adopted a 20-year strategic plan, “Olathe 2040”, to develop efficient and innovative ways to serve residents through digital transformation. By aligning services with resident needs (and feedback), leveraging emerging technology, and using data to inform decision-making, the city aims to take its customer experience and service delivery to the next level. Emphasizing digital service delivery through its website experience, the City of Olathe set out to become more efficient across the board. Digital programs manager Scott Meyer is leading the charge.

The Website

Previously, Olathe had a website that was built by in-house developers with very little structure or emphasis on user experience. As these developers came and went, they didn’t document their processes, making site maintenance nearly impossible. There were no breadcrumbs, subdirectories, or site maps to help either users or search engines navigate the website. To find the information they needed, residents needed to understand the internal structure of their government - an unrealistic expectation for most community members.

Communications

In addition to issues with the website, the City of Olathe gave considerable thought to how best to distribute information, especially to people who sought it out. Prior to working with Granicus, they had an archaic email delivery system that distributed unformatted, text-only emails. The email distribution lists weren’t analyzed, and the performance of the emails wasn’t tracked.

Meetings

Olathe’s governing body had a desire to be as transparent as possible, but they were unable to do so because of a broken document management system that was tied to the city’s under-structured and managed website. The former agenda creation and management system was inefficient with no form of checks and balances. Instead—before each city council or planning commission meeting—the city clerk had the burden of manually building agendas based on an unspecified number of emails.

Permitting, Public Records, Payments and Other Services

The City of Olathe wanted to offer services in a user-focused, customer-friendly format; however, most of the city’s services were completed via online PDFs that required a member of city staff to place a call, send an email, or request an in-person visit to city hall to submit supporting documentation. The onset of COVID-19 essentially forced Meyer and team to rethink the city’s approach to service fulfillment.

Olathe, KS used/is using Granicus Civic Engagement Platform to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

Olathe, KS has been able to better deliver information to its subscribers and integrate technology since implementing Granicus’s Civic Engagement Platform, including govMeetings, govAccess, govDelivery and govService.

A tried-and-true analogy, Scott Meyer, Digital Programs Manager, likes to think of Olathe’s civic engagement as the hub and spokes of a wheel. While the hub is the govAccess website, the spokes are email, text, and social media powered by govDelivery, and the ability to view and participate in meetings online with govMeetings. “We fully take advantage of the content suggestions offered by the govDelivery communications cloud, as well as the decision-making insight we gather from the website and communications solutions analysis. Now, we know how many people are viewing and clicking on our content, how much time they’re spending on each page... We’re just well-informed now,” Meyer added.

Coupling govAccess (the website) and govDelivery (the communications solution) in an integration called Send by govDelivery, the City of Olathe has the power to deliver tailored information directly from their website to their subscribers. “We had govAccess and govDelivery for a while before we started to implement connections between the two solutions,” Meyer said. “Now, as our partnership with Granicus has matured, those connections are more intuitive and easier to facilitate. The relationship we formed with Granicus years ago is paying dividends for us now.”

The City of Olathe also uses an integration between govMeetings and govDelivery called Send Agenda where finalized agendas can automatically be sent out through govDelivery. Agendas are also published on the calendar on their govAccess website.

"Olathe's success can also be measured by its ability to continue evolving and adding to its experience, knowing everything will work seamlessly together because we have an interconnected, platform solution.”

Scott Meyer, Digital Programs Manager

Outcomes

  1. An increase of 16,000 visits after adding agendas online, representing a 100% increase in traffic
  2. 2660% Increase in total subscribers, growing from 2,167 to more than 60,000 in 2017
  3. 12% increase in users accessing the site directly
  4. Increased ease of use, taking on average 2 minutes for residents to find what they need online

Who Should Consider?

City departments looking to better engage with their residents through an integrated platform.