Earlier this week, we explored what it means to be a “smart community.” Experienced product managers in the information technology field will tell you that technology alone cannot solve the underlying problems smart community initiatives are intended to address. True transformation comes when organizations seek to deliver an improved process or service that provides value to the end user.
It’s helpful to identify one clear area that will genuinely benefit your constituents and build a thin, vertical infrastructure with just enough capability to support it. Said differently, do something today with the data and technology you already have.
Here are few ideas to get you started.
1. Give to Get
Slowly introduce your employees to new technology by providing tools that enrich their work without asking for anything in return. For example, several Geocortex and Cityworks customers started by developing an asset history app for their field crews. When field workers are standing in front of assets in the field, the app shows them a list of nearby assets sorted by distance. They can pick the closest asset that looks correct and receive a summarized history of prior work on that asset.
By providing value without asking anything in return, field crews begin using the capability and, in most cases, make requests for other functionality that would further support them in their work.
2. Something Simple, Done Well
What valuable services are you already providing, and how can you improve? When the City of Prince George, British Columbia, implemented Cityworks and Geocortex, they looked for ways to improve customer experience without drastically changing the essential services they already provided. For example, the city provided an app that allows employees to easily submit facility maintenance requests.
The new process didn’t require end-user training. Instead, it mirrored an existing process and vocabulary and insulated employees from underlying technology changes in Cityworks that ultimately led to streamlined dispatch and resolution.
3. Connecting Data in One Location
Location is the ultimate ‘foreign key.’ How much of your organization’s information could you tie together based upon address? Incident commanders responding to public safety events usually have access to GIS tools and data, but the usual approach of one question at a time is inefficient and frustrating in emergency situations. Geocortex Active Operating Picture took individual tools and turned the interface inside out. Now, a single tap on the map organizes and summarizes all available data in an information-rich summary view.
This solution goes far beyond emergency situations. Consider other location-based information such as waste and recycling schedules, current and future service work, nearby re-zoning applications and permits, assessed values, or last bill amounts for water, sewer, electric, and sanitation? Most of us would regularly consult a dashboard that tied together commonly consulted data based on our location.
Regardless of which tips you try first, remember to stay curious. We all find ourselves at school concerts or sports practice. Use those opportunities to ask people what would benefit and enrich their lives. Your next award-winning idea for a smart initiative could be sitting right beside you.
What smart initiatives are you planning for 2019? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll highlight them here.
By Cam Barnard, product manager, Latitude Geographics