Education & Government
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Diana Baker Freeman
Sr. Manager, Modern Governance Advocacy & Iniatives

Creative strategies for digital transformation for local government and municipalities

October 10, 2023
0 min read
digital transformation for local government and municipalities

Local governments and municipalities are facing increased pressure to adapt to the changing landscape and embrace digital transformation. This transformation offers many opportunities to enhance efficiency, improve communication and better serve the needs of citizens. However, implementing successful digital transformation strategies requires creativity and innovation. This blog will explore innovative approaches that local governments can employ to harness the power of technology and revolutionize their operations and interactions with citizens.

Technology can help local governments meet the expectations of citizens and businesses, even when budgets are tight. Digital transformation in local government also bolsters efficiency and responsiveness while improving governance and the quality of services delivered to citizens.

An article in StateTech says, "As the future of government service transitions to digital, state and local governments must digitally transform, providing constituents with the trusted experiences they've come to expect while enhancing employees' ability to deliver on their mission."

Drivers behind local government digital maturity

The Institute of Leadership states that local governments may deliver over 1,000 different services to their communities. Technology plays a critical role in supporting this vast array of services that also may need to serve a diverse population.

Here’s a look at some of the issues that are driving digital maturity in local governments:

Citizen expectations and community engagement

Citizens now have the same expectations for service from their government as they have from businesses. A Salesforce report on connected governments entitled The Future of Digital Service says that most people prefer using digital transactions for most transactions.

Nasi Jazayeri, a Salesforce manager, says, "A digital-first strategy not only better positions public sector organizations to respond in times of crisis, but is also key to long-term growth."

Efficiency and cost savings

Community members expect their governments to be prudent with tax dollars. They expect council members to ensure that the tax money is being spent wisely and without waste. Using technology in savvy ways to drive efficiencies is one way local governments can show digital leadership.

Data-driven decision-making

Metrics and key performance indicators can help council members make informed decisions. Data enables council members to make more data-driven decisions that will also result in better community support.

Remote work

Local services often must continue even when employees can’t get to government offices. Also, remote work can help reduce the drain on other resources such as building maintenance and utilities.

Transparency and accountability

Citizens want access to information about government policies, council meetings and more. Transparency helps citizens hold their leaders accountable and lessens the potential for corruption.


The essential services local governments provide, coupled with the large amount of sensitive data they store, makes local governments a target for cybercrime — especially if they have outdated technology systems and limited funding for cybersecurity

The Salesforce report shows that 50% of the general public would like a guarantee of security of personal or or institutional data.

Increased regulatory compliance

Local governments must meet citizens’ needs for digital self-service solutions. For example, section 508 of the ADA establishes new guidelines for digital resident communications so citizens can view council meetings and get permits and other services digitally.

Resource optimization

Local government councils can show fiscal responsibility by streamlining operations, allocating funds strategically and prioritizing essential services (education, healthcare, public safety, etc.).

Climate change

A national survey by The Center for Digital Government showed that about half of the respondents cited climate change as the main reason they need to invest more in technology. For example, many local governments are looking to use electric vehicles or reduce paper waste.

Tech advancements such as AI

The same survey showed that almost half of those surveyed currently use AI or plan to implement it by 2025. (Download our free guide to creating a safe and transparent AI governance framework for local government.)

Disaster and crisis preparedness

Being prepared for disasters reduces long-term recovery costs and disruption to the community. Disaster preparation can mitigate damage and save lives to create safe, more resilient communities. Learn more about handling crises with our local government crisis management toolkit.

Core capabilities and organizational enablers for digital strategies

Back in 2016, McKinsey & Company identified the two main considerations for digital strategies in local governments. They are: the core capabilities of your local government and its organizational enablers.

The core capabilities local governments use to engage the community and provide services include the methods and tools they use and the processes they implement. These include the government’s approach to decision-making and how they share data with the public.

The organizational enablers that support local governments in delivering the core capabilities are strategy, governance and organization, leadership, talent, culture and technology.

To prepare your organization for new digital strategies, you need to identify and address gaps in digital skills and invest in resources to help build the capabilities you need.

The best offense is a good defense, so you'll also need to identify the processes that could inhibit digital transformation in local government and make plans to remove barriers. Local governments have longstanding business processes and often, they also have employees with long tenure. Together, these issues can create a change-resistant culture within the workforce. Feedback from the community on how digitization offers better access to services can convince employees that digital strategies are helpful and valuable.

After implementing digital strategies, local governments should work toward attracting and engaging users. Workshops, training and videos are good ways to help users get familiar with new digital systems. Ask for feedback on new digital strategies to encourage innovation and collaboration.

Creative digital strategies for local government

In helping your local government organization or municipality move forward with digitization and modernization, start thinking about the type of strategies that you'd design if you didn't have any legacy structures to start with. With that in mind, establish your top priorities.

Here are some digital strategies other local governments are implementing as part of digital transformation you can use as a model:

  • Virtual town halls: Facilitate a broader audience, including people with disabilities, by using software that allows your government to livestream meetings and offer public Q&A sessions to encourage community engagement.
  • Digital storytelling for community impact: Share compelling stories about community projects, initiatives, and success stories using your public transparency website. Incorporate multimedia elements such as videos, infographics and testimonials to engage and inspire residents.
  • Community crowdsourcing: Use your public transparency website to enable community members to contribute ideas, report issues and collaborate on local projects. Crowdsource ideas for urban planning, public art projects or gathering feedback on city initiatives.
  • Open initiatives: Launch open initiatives to make government data accessible to the public, using your board management software to publish agendas, meeting information and key documents to help build transparency and trust.
  • Digital inclusion: Look at how you can launch programs to ensure digital inclusion for all residents. Provide access to affordable internet, digital literacy training, and support for using online government services, especially for marginalized communities.
  • Chatbots for citizen support: Implement AI-powered chatbots on government websites or social media platforms to provide instant assistance and information to citizens. Chatbots can handle routine inquiries, freeing up human resources for more complex tasks.

In re-envisioning your local government’s digital tools and programs, consider how these digital strategies supported by Diligent Community could transform your local government.

Increase digital skills and address gaps

Not all local council members and staff are familiar with digital strategies and how useful they can be. Additionally, AI has the potential to transform local government for the better. While AI can be useful in certain applications, a report by EY shows that employees are concerned about the loss of jobs, salary reductions and the lack of growth opportunities.

Local governments can overcome such barriers to digital transformation in local government by upskilling employees through workshops and training programs. For example, Diligent Institute offers certifications to equip council members and leaders with knowledge, resources, and insights that enable them to govern effectively. Greater familiarity with digital tools and processes will help turn digital skeptics into digital supporters.

Digitize your procurement process

Vendors will appreciate digital strategies that reduce vendor selection time and offer short contract periods. It's not necessary to make large changes all at once. Look for small ways to create efficiency and build on those innovations. Break large contracts into smaller parts. As digital programs become more readily available, they will offer more savings.

Make open data standards and open interfaces a high priority for procurement to avoid paying premiums for non-standard requests. Keep processes as flexible and agile as possible so you can keep your options open and change priorities as necessary. Work to allow collaboration among vendors whenever possible, which will help to integrate services. Develop and train your procurement employees so that they take advantage of agile-based contracts.

Digital strategies supported by governance technology

By making advancements in digital transformation, your local government will be able to count itself as one of the most successful municipalities.

Your council can take the lead on digital transformation by using board management software to support your board business. Diligent Community is a software solution with meeting management and online citizen engagement that also supports organizational capabilities and enables effective governance.

Diligent Community provides workrooms where councils and committees can work virtually. It gives you the tools to livestream council meetings and allow for citizen participation. The platform also leverages Google Translate to translate meeting materials into other languages effortlessly.

Find out even more ways Diligent Community can help support your local government’s strategies for a digital age. Request a demo today.


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