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Text Messaging Platform Leads to 94% Increase in Citizen Engagement

North Charleston, SC, USA
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Citibot
Contact Partner

Goverment Champion

Mayor's Office, IT, Public Works, Sanitation

Cost

Initial:
1 Thousand USD

Project Status

Operational since 2017

Keywords

accessibility
equity
mobile app
citizen engagement
chatbot

Challenges Addressed

Citizen Engagement
Transparency
Civic Technology
Digital Government
Process Improvement

Motivation

Smart city
Sustainable city
Equitable city

Funding / Financing

General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Project Type

Technology
Service

At a Glance

North Charleston wanted to be more accessible and responsive to all citizens. In July 2017, the city launched Citibot, an interactive text message customer service solution; which led to a 94% increase in citizen engagement while also making city workflows over 112% more efficient.

Problem Addressed

Cities like North Charleston (pop. 115,000) have many points of connectivity to their citizens, but engagement levels are still too low. The city has done a great job with social media messaging through both Facebook and Twitter, but the city knew that only part of the city's demographic was consistently on these social media channels. Additionally, the city was having to step up its resources to respond to all the Facebook, Twitter, and Next Door public facing messages, which is becoming more challenging to stay ahead of. The North Charleston leadership team knew that how we communicate with each other is changing so much through technology, and they knew that most people prefer to text message (97% of US adults send text messages). They knew that they wanted to create a more proactive channel for connectivity and civic change. Thus, they agreed to launch Citibot to meet citizens where they are comfortable communicating and become the first city in America to have an interactive text message engagement solution.

The City of North Charleston used/is using Citibot to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

With Citibot, citizens can send a text message to (1) ask a question and receive an immediate answer; (2) make a citizen request and receive instant confirmation when the issue is resolved; and (3) send in a personalized message to get routed to the appropriate city staff member -- to received a personalized direct response back from the city. "Citibot never sleeps," says City of North Charleston PIO Ryan Johnson.

The Citibot effect is that the city is surpassing its engagement goals, as citizen engagement has increased by 94% and the city is more efficiently addressing and fixing reported city issues by over 112%. "Citibot utilizes text messaging, something almost everyone now is using. It’s easy, conversational, and more efficiently notifies the city, allowing us to get the job done quicker," says North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey. Checkout North Charleston Citibot in action here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srsTPqBgqh4

Outcomes

  1. 94% increase in citizen engagement.
  2. 112% increase in city efficiencies in fixing issues like potholes, broken trash bins, street lights, and flooded places.
  3. Due to these efficiencies above, the city is getting much more productivity out of each city worker in public works and sanitation, for example.
  4. City staff is doing more meaningful work and less menial work due to Citibot's question and answer technology. 60%-70% of inbound communications into local gov are questions, and Citibot answers them.
  5. Local government has a more proactive channel to connect to citizens as opposed to just the reactive channels like Facebook and Twitter.

Something Unique

North Charleston was the first city in America to use this cutting edge technology, where Citibot is using Artificial Intelligence to run the city customer service experience through interactive text messaging.

Who Should Consider?

Cities and counties of any size. Citibot's smallest customer by population is Celina, TX (pop. 10,000), and its largest is Fort Worth (pop. 900,000 and the 13th largest city in America).

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