In the midst of extraordinary circumstances, government agencies across the country are working tirelessly to address the needs of citizens and provide clear lines of communication.
Municipalities are mobilizing to make it easier for citizens to get access to services they need without having to appear in-person. Local governments are also making essential forms easier to find and providing a clear voice on information that’s coming directly from expert resources.
Our team has gathered some examples of the work that’s been done so far, and we’re sharing them here with the hope they can serve as inspiration for any municipality thinking about creating their own citizen-facing portal. Whether this pandemic has affected your community or not yet, preparedness and clear communication are key. Your citizens will appreciate your guidance and leadership during these times.
And of course we want to acknowledge the hard work that everyone is doing right now. Please let us know if we can help in any way.
What follows are publicly available pages and portals we’ve found so far. We’ll continue to share more as we uncover them. Feel free to share any examples you know of: firstname.lastname@example.org
Examples of coronavirus response pages/portals (external):
A good place to start is adding something to your homepage. While it’s important to direct citizens to your Coronavirus resources, it’s also possible that site visitors might be looking for other, non-virus related resources too. A homepage banner or an update to your homepage carousel is a lightweight, effective way to draw attention without overhauling your entire homepage.
- City of Ferndale, MI: https://www.ferndalemi.gov/ (homepage banner)
- Cabarrus County, CA: https://www.cabarruscounty.us/ (homepage banner)
- Bonney Lake, WA: https://www.ci.bonney-lake.wa.us/ (carousel addition)
- Manatee County, FL: https://www.mymanatee.org/ (homepage banner)
- Washoe County, NV: https://www.washoecounty.us/ (homepage banner)
- City of Rye, NY: https://www.ryeny.gov/home (homepage banner)
- Somers, NY: https://www.somersny.com/ (homepage banner)
Once a visitor clicks through from the homepage, you can create a landing page with more in-depth information about what citizens need to know, and what they can do to stay up-to-date.
- Ferndale: https://www.ferndalemi.gov/news/community-update-on-the-novel-19-coronavirus
- Cabarrus County: https://www.cabarrushealth.org/555/Coronavirus-Information-Page
- Bonney Lake: https://www.ci.bonney-lake.wa.us/news/what_s_new/coronavirus_update_and_resources
- Manatee County: https://www.mymanatee.org/departments/public_safety/coronavirus_information
- Washoe County: https://www.washoecounty.us/health/programs-and-services/communicable-diseases-and-epidemiology/educational_materials/COVID-19.php
- City of Rye: https://www.ryeny.gov/services/remote-city-services-new/coronavirus-updates
- Somers, NY: https://www.somersny.com/news/westchester-county-health-department-prepares-for-coronavirus
Another good idea: linking to your state’s COVID-19 update page so that citizens in your municipality can stay current with what’s happening across the state. Manatee County links to Florida’s COVID-19 page, found here.
You may also consider creating a form specifically for residents to request special assistance. This could be as simple as converting an existing Request for Public Assistance form.
Examples of coronavirus response pages/portals (internal):
A friendly reminder not to overlook your own employees in your Coronavirus preparedness resources. Look for ways to create digital processes to make the life of staff easier, not only during this crisis but also when the pandemic subsides.
As Dan Wyskochil, Business Process Analyst for Schaumburg, IL, points out, "I'm working on a 'response tracker' form as we anticipate that we will need to track employee time/effort on COVID-19 related work so that we can submit an accurate emergency response reimbursement funding request to the Fed."
Making it easy for staff to get remote access to forms and information they need is essential, especially for agencies that may have already switched to a remote work system. Some examples of forms you might want to consider for your employees:
- Telework Policy + Agreement - while you might have issued a blanket work from home policy for staff, it is good to get the necessary paperwork in place to establish a start date for each employee and provide official verbiage around expectations of telework.
- Home Visit Screen Questionnaire - For agencies where staff are doing field visits, or require citizens to come into the office for a visit, it is prudent to standardize on processes that were historically done in-person. The City of New York Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) has created just such a form for parents who must visit the ACS Center.
- Risk Assessment Form - For local health professionals that might be conducting phone screens or field testing requests from citizens, it could simplify the life of staff to create an online form that they can use to field requests at scale. This also makes cataloging data collected from those requesting testing.
- Time Tracker Form - As staff is stretched to the limit, agencies might consider creating a separate time tracking form. This makes it easier to monitor employee hours at-a-glance and make better-informed decisions about staffing.