Tag Archives: local government

Creating a Welcoming & Connected City – @Philly311 Youth Engagement Program Graduation

Saying Goodbye

The final session and Philly311 YEP graduation ceremony was an emotional but enjoyable day. For the staff who created and implemented this program and worked with the participants ever week, it was bittersweet. It was incredible to review the program with the students and hear all the information the children had learned during the program and see how much their interest in local government had increased, but it was sad to say goodbye to our first YEP cohort.

The Impact

Overall, this program had a tremendous impact. For example, the interest in and awareness of the Junior Block Captain program increased. According to the survey we took after the final YEP session 35% of our participants showed interest in becoming a Junior Block Captain, in the pre-program survey we took on week one, only 29% were interested in this program. Additionally, after YEP, 96% of our students knew about Junior Block Captains, compared to 29% before the Philly311 youth program. One of our participants has already submitted his application to be a Junior Block Captain. This is only one example of how we have seen a real impact on the lives of these talented young people who want to make a difference in their community.

Another statistic that speaks to the success of YEP is that before our program only two students, 7% of participants, reported knowing what Philly311 was, and after YEP 96% of the students not only knew about the program but felt comfortable using our mobile app to submit requests.

The Final Session

We started off our last day on a light note. We knew that it was going to be a long day for the kids so we ate lunch together; pizza was provided by Philly311.

After the pizza party, we moved into the auditorium for the final presentations. The Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism (MOCEV) began the presentations, talking about the many benefits of volunteering. MOCEV explained the Waste Watchers initiative, which is when volunteers work big events in the city, such as the Philadelphia Marathon, to help attendees sort their trash into recycle, compost, and landfill. The students were able to sign-up for Waste Watchers on-site if they were interested.

The Philadelphia Youth Commission presented next. Explaining their history and what they do. The Youth Commission had an activity that demonstrated how some people naturally want to lead the group and others instinctively remain silent. They emphasized the importance of using your voice and informed the students that the Youth Commission was a great way to do that. The YEP participants could become Youth Commissioners as a way to use their voice to influence local political leaders. Both of the presentations were about empowering Philadelphia youth and encouraging civic pride and participation.

The Graduation Ceremony

Following the presentations, we moved on to formal remarks. I spoke about the importance of this program, thanking the students and all of our fantastic partners: Education Works, Police Explorers, Junior Block Captains, Urban Affairs Coalition, ASAP, Fun Safe Philly Summer, Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, and the Youth Commission, who were presenters and volunteered at almost all of the five sessions to help supervise and facilitate the program. I am so appreciative of my staff and to our partners for making this program a reality.

I then introduced Daniel Ramos, Community Engagement Coordinator. He presented before and after pictures of the issues that the students submitted on the first day of YEP and talked about how they were completed and how much better it looks now. His presentation reminded the students what a real difference the students made in this neighborhood. He encouraged them to keep it up, if someone does graffiti on that wall again, report it, if another storm blows down a large tree, submit a request – this is how we keep our city beautiful.

Gabriela Raczka, Communications Director for Customer Service, spoke about how she was honored to participate and get to know these bright young people. She worked on organizing the speakers and attended each session. She felt that it was a very meaningful experience for everyone involved. Gabriela hoped the students learned valuable information from the program. Daniel Ramos spoke again briefly, about how the program came together and how wonderful the students were. He also spoke briefly about his experience growing up in difficult circumstances and how he was able to turn his life around to help make this city a better place.

Councilwoman Maria Quinonez Sanchez joined us for the graduation ceremony. She delivered remarks about how pleased she was this program took place in her district. She told the students how she is deeply invested in the wellbeing of the community and really appreciates all the issues the YEP participants helped to resolve. After Councilwoman Sanchez spoke, we presented the students with their certificates of achievement, signed by the Mayor and myself, and took photos of each YEP student holding their certificate with the Councilwoman, myself, and the Education Works Site Coordinator, Jasmine Council.

Miles Wilson,Executive Director of Education Works, also joined us for the day. He delivered touching remarks about how the program clearly meant a lot to the children and how they were very engaged. He was particularly impressed with how the students interacted with him immediately, even though it was his first day meeting most of them. He told the students he was proud of them and encouraged them to take the information they learned and put it to good use, to keep in touch with the many connections they made from different organizations, and to stay focused.

The graduation closed with remarks from Laiya, radio personality from 107.9, who told the children how great it was that they learned how to report issues to 311 and what a great job they did helping to improve their community.

The entire day was celebratory and inspirational. I am thrilled at what we accomplished with this program and am looking to the future hoping we can continue this great work to empower and educate young Philadelphians.

Stay tuned for more updates about the Youth Engagement Program and contact Gabriela Raczka, Gabriela.raczka@phila.gov if you would like to be involved in future Philly311 YEP programming or activities.

Rosetta Carrington Lue is the City of Philadelphia first Chief Customer Officer. She is a dynamic leader in the fields of Customer Experience Management, Strategy and Technology, Social Media and Community Engagement in both public and private sectors.

How to Modernize Government Using Open Data Sources

In a previous blog post about modernizing government, I talked about why open data matters, and how it can be a tool of democracy. In today’s post I want to focus on open sources and some of the opposition posed towards open source development models. Open source as a development model, and having open data, is important for local government 3-1-1s because it helps provide more access to municipal information, demonstrates trends in the community, and supports accountability.

It’s not unusual for people to get these two confused, so lets start with some definitions courtesy of (fan favorite) Wikipedia:

Open Data: “Open data is the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.”

Open Source: “In production and development, open source as a development model promotes a universal access via a free license to a product’s design or blueprint, and universal redistribution of that design or blueprint, including subsequent improvements to it by anyone.”

Like providing open data, using an open source digital strategy supports a transparent culture–especially for 3-1-1 systems–but also allows agencies to receive the benefits of an open source process. Govloop, in a documentation that highlights government trends, outlines the importance of open source in government nicely, saying, “Open source development accelerates government’s digital transformation by allowing agencies to reap the benefits of others’ progress. Secondly, it creates a transparent process that can foster public faith in these new initiatives…an open source approach ensures that digital initiatives will be maximally effective because it provides channels for users to report bugs and provide suggestions for improvement.” In summary, open source models allow both internal and external customers the ability to provide real-time feedback, which is valuable to all parties. What this looks like within a 3-1-1 environment, for example, is having the ability to see when a service requested has been received by a department, or having real-time dashboards that show what type of requests are being taken.

Like any model, open source has its critics. However, the primary criticism of open source is more conceptual than anything else, and rests in both theoretical incongruence, when applied to government, and cultural opposition. Ephemeral Journal published a compelling article by Nathaniel Tkacz on this very subject: “From Open Source to Open Government: A critique of open politics.” Tkacz points out that the idea of openness within a political sphere is rarely examined semantically and, in practice, political openness establishes a sensibility amongst citizens without defining limitations.

You can see how this could potentially be problematic for local government, but let’s not disregard our own democratic structure. If we view government as an entity that drives social change through democracy, than we must view the “(re)emergence of ‘the open,’” as Tkacz calls it, as a reflection of the government’s soci-transformative nature. Modernizing government also requires adapting to modern ideas. Promoting universal access is necessary because democracy requires informed citizens. The goal of any 3-1-1 is to serve the customer, and to provide them with tools that empower them. Open data is a tool that empowers citizens. In this way, an open source approach is both necessary and important for 3-1-1, and should be a priority for all branches of government.

Return on Investment (ROI) Model in Government – Does It Really Exists? Maybe…

The question of how government can track the success of profitless projects comes into question on a regular basis. It is easy to follow a dollar. Money leaves tracks, but how does local government leverage private practice metrics to better inform future projects and practices?

Non-profits use a different measure of value to reflect a more impact-centric formula to measuring ROI. Monetizable outcome and value have taken command of the popular imagination, yet motivation, beliefs, and ethical practice are equally important, and have defined value in the public sector. Regardless, the bottom line is investment creates more investment.

According to a 2008 report from the ROI Institute, and comprehensive measurement and evaluation process data from over 200 organizations, “Global trends in measurement and evaluation” indicate “increased focus is driven by clients and sponsors,” and “ROI is the fastest growing metric.” These two factors demonstrate that increased focus for an organization is directly impacted by the return. Impact can easily be interchanged with the public sector’s definition of value.

The relationship between return, and exterior financial support, points to an across the board paradigm shift between all sectors. Activity is no longer sufficient evidence to justify activity. Activity–whether it is a program, a project, an initiative, or the creation of a product–must be result based. In this there is a need to abandon ambiguous performance measurements, forge more social partnerships, and use efficient CRM systems that capture data. With this paradigm shift, we see government adapting to result based processes.

Dr. Jack Phillips and Patricia Pulliam Phillips note in their review, “Using ROI to Demonstrate HR Value in the Public Sector: A Review of Best Practices,” that ROI methodology is currently being used in the public sector in a multitude of ways by entities like the USA Veterans Administration, Australian Department of Defense, and U.S federal government agency. These entities are using ROI to “demonstrate program success and impact of training on educational programs,” “measure the impact of a new human resources information systems,” and to “measure the cost benefit of a master’s degree program conducted on site by a prestigious government.”

The emphasis on managing data isn’t simply a sporadic interest in government, or a trend that the public sector is suddenly jumping on board with. From a federal level the 2002 President’s Management Agenda (PMA) pinpointed five government wide goals that have influenced this contemporary line of thinking. The goals speak to the need for strategic management of human capital, competitive sourcing, improved financial performance, expanded e-government, and budget and performance integration. The PMA’s goals indicate a need to find a comprehensive formula for combining ROI metrics and analytics that support social impact, program evaluation, and quantitative data to measure both a monetary and a non-monetary return. The outcome of finding this formula would result in more than just saving a few bucks, and could potentially result in productivity and quality increases.

In an earlier document from the ROI Institute, Dr. Phillips provides an example of what this would look like:

“In a government setting, cost savings measures are available from every work group. For example, if a government agency implements a program to improve forms processing–a productivity measure is number of forms processed; the quality measure is the error rate on processing forms; a time measure is the time it takes to process the forms; and a cost measure is the cost of processing forms on a per-unit basis. Improvements in work unit performance in a government setting have many opportunities for program benefits that can be converted to monetary value.”

One of the ways that the Third Sector Organization (TSO), in the United Kingdom, has attempted to qualify social value of their sector is through developing a methodology: Social Return on Investment (SROI). The goal of SROI is to translate social, economic, and environmental benefits into monetary value. Yet the SROI isn’t necessarily applicable to individual programs and initiatives, and still prioritizes financial measurements over, say, what a social audit would result in: qualitative information combined with financial data that informs internal performance.

Ultimately, even with the strides that the TSO has made, there is still a global gap in knowledge when it comes to gauging impact on smaller scale profit-less items. A 2013, working paper from the Tellurid Science Research Center concluded on a similar note, stating:

“There is an extensive body of grey literature on impact measurement practice, however this has tended to be small-scale and boosterist in nature. The field has also suffered from a lack of theorisation of key concepts and critical appraisal of previous research, with a few exceptions. A number of studies are emerging which attempt to address this theoretical and empirical gap, but in general empirical research on impact measurement practice in the UK third sector, particularly which organizations and subsectors are undertaking impact measurement and the practices and tools they are using, is limited.”

Though there are limitations, the potential remains there for the public sector to find an all encompassing return on investment model, however no formula or practice standard exists at the moment. BUT there is still hope!

How are you measuring the ROI or SROI in the public sector? I would love to hear your feedback and suggestions.

6 Trends Shaping Government/Citizen Relationships by Timothy McCormick

I found Salesforce Timothy McCormick’s blog post on the citizen engagement initiatives within the City of Philadelphia, including the launch of the new 311 non emergency Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, was on point as it pertains to the growth of excellence citizen engagement and experience in the public sector.

Below is an excerpt from the blog and link to the entire blog post for your review.

Citizen engagement is less than desirable–with long lines, lots of paperwork, and the confusion of a bureaucracy make it hard for citizens to access the right information. How often are citizens reporting issues vs. commenting (or complaining) on a soap box over social? How many elected positions ran with uncontested candidates in your last election?

Timely responses. How many times have you thought, “What more can we do to make this move faster? Why does progress on XYZ project seem to move so slow compared to everything else in life? How can we possibly do more with stricter budget and fewer resources all around?” Not only does this make it hard to motivate teams, but also it causes citizens to lose faith as they see responses lag and vague delivery commitments, impacting the government’s respectability from the perspective of their customers.

Transparency is difficult to deliver. Without transparency into the decision making process, progress against a request, or delivery impactors, citizens are left to make assumptions, that when paired with a lack of trust, tend to have a negative impact on relations with their governing bodies. Do you feel like this has impacted citizen relationships with your organization(s), such as relations with local politicians, or the police department?

So why all of the sudden are these pain points more prevalent? Why is citizen engagement stagnant, or in some cases dropping? Why does the gap between timely delivery and citizen expectation seem to be growing, no matter what? Why is providing transparency so much more difficult today?

The answer is easy: impact of technology trends and transformation. Here are some trends to consider:

Mobile

Mobile gives citizens the power to connect to their government anywhere, anytime–and they have come to expect that level of engagement now that mobile is commonplace. This is good for government, as always-on citizens give organizations the ability to collect more data in context, enabling leaders to prioritize with more accuracy and be more aligned with what citizens care about all around.

Social

Anywhere, anytime citizens tend to be anytime, anywhere customers. This means they have come to expect social interfaces as the user interface as much as they expect mobile accessibility, giving them an always-on receptacle for comments, inquiries, and request status. Social Platforms help governments meet these demands in a scalable, cost conscious way by supplying a transparent and collaborative platform for engagement that is friendly to Q&A at the pace of conversation.

Apps

With technology expanding an organization’s potential reach, apps are becoming more and more popular as an internal asset. They are easily adapted to the next big mobile or tech trend (think apps for the Apple watch), helping organizations modernize/rationalize dated infrastructure at the pace of their citizens.

Connected Products

More and more devices are coming online, revealing data that could never before be captured. While many organizations we talk to see this as a daunting, overwhelming force to be reckoned with, it’s not! By connecting ordinary objects, such as busses, trains, or stoplights to the internet, (made easier to service with apps on a common platform!) citizens will start to expose behavioral patterns that…

Data

Unlock all kinds of data never before detectable. With increased data availability, variety, and context around everyday activities and citizen behavior patterns, officials can better inform government strategy and resource planning. If you are interested in learning more about how to apply and benefit from a data strategy, join us for Philly Innovates. Mayor Michael Nutter and his team are hosting the first-ever Innovation Summit live in the city, and will share how they addressed these tech trends to realize bottom-line benefits.

1:1 Journeys

Customer experience–and therefore citizen experience–is the new differentiator, as new technologies enable customized, personal, more meaningful experiences with a given organization. Just look at how taxi services have morphed so quickly with companies like Lyft and Uber breaking down barriers between private and public sectors, changing the competitive landscape like government has never before seen. There is no reason why agencies can’t take this same approach to citizen services.

Click here to read the entire blog post: http://blogs.salesforce.com/company/2015/01/6-trends-shaping-governmentcitizen-relationships-.html