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The Solar Onboarding Experience Needs a Refresh

The Solar Onboarding Experience Needs a Refresh
The below is a guest article I published in North American Clean Energy earlier this month. In 2015, the solar industry celebrated three historic moments — in Paris, world leaders came together and agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach zero emissions by the middle of the 21st century; in Washington, D.C., Republicans and Democrats briefly put aside their differences and voted to extend tax credits for wind turbines and solar panels; and, fortuitously, this came on the heels of new federal regulations mandating a 32 percent cut in carbon from power plants that pollute our air by 2030. But before this is proclaimed a miracle for the planet, there is a government-created problem, from the horse and buggy era, which must be dealt with. And the solution may lie in our cities and counties. Disrupting the permit expediter Since 2008, residential solar panel installations are up nearly 2,000...
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Evanston 311: City Celebrates Five-Year Anniversary of Its Successful 311 Call Center

Evanston 311: City Celebrates Five-Year Anniversary of Its Successful 311 Call Center
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This post is part of our weeklong celebration of 311 Day on March 11th. Use the hashtag #Getthe311 to follow the celebration on Twitter. ---- Earlier this month, the City of Evanston, Illinois, celebrated the five-year anniversary of its successful 311 call center. The success of the program can be summed up by this July article in the Chicago Tribune . Columnist Christine Wolf describes how, following an accident involving her son, Evanston 311 helped drive change that brought improved signage to a dangerous intersection. “Knowing I had someone to call about an issue important to me kept the lines of communication open and positive – a much-needed reminder for this working mom,” she wrote. Since implementation, the City has received 678,101 calls, 132,270 requests, 9,916 live chats and 1,459 texts. What makes Evanston 311 worth celebrating is the City's commitment to public service. In addition to a 311 line,...
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The Open Meeting Law Experience in Westwood, Massachusetts: How We Improved Transparency and Streamlined the Entire Meeting Process

The Open Meeting Law Experience in Westwood, Massachusetts: How We Improved Transparency and Streamlined the Entire Meeting Process
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First, let me say that I am not an Open Meeting Law expert, nor is my interpretation of the law fact. This is an opinion piece on how here in Westwood, Massachusetts, we have used the Open Meeting Law to keep our residents informed and remain as transparent as possible with the way our community leaders make decisions. I have worked for the Town of Westwood as the Executive Assistant for the last eight years with the primary responsibility of supporting the Town Administrator in preparing packets for the biweekly Board of Selectmen meetings, including organization of the reports, attachments and proposed actions and maintaining all the records in the office. Massachusetts Open Meeting Law (OML), M.G.L. Chapter 30A, §§18-25 was created to require communities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to be transparent in their governance. Westwood takes OML very seriously and we follow the law to the best of...
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4 Ways Civic Technology Drives Results for Policy Outcomes

4 Ways Civic Technology Drives Results for Policy Outcomes
The below is an excerpt of my guest post on National League of Cities’ Cities Speak blog last week. You can read the full post here . Municipal laws and codes have been forged over decades and are currently facing challenges keeping up with emerging and rapidly expanding regulatory issues such as solar/clean energy and the legalization of marijuana and initiatives like the White House’s Startup in a Day challenge. Even with the best-intentioned legislation, public policy initiatives can stall without the proper tools to enable easy and efficient compliance. So how do governments balance the additional workload required to address these emerging issues with limited staff resources? How can cities keep up with the demands and expectations of their citizens? Fortunately, civic technology, which provides targeted solutions for governments to solve real problems, is experiencing exponential growth, reaching not just urban cities, but also suburbs, farm towns and remote...
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Behind the Scenes: Lee Ann Slinkard in Professional Services

Behind the Scenes: Lee Ann Slinkard in Professional Services
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How did you end up at Accela? My entire career has been in services. I initially thought I wanted to be a researcher. I was in a PhD program at UCSF in Health Psychology, and I made money on the side by helping nurses get the stats for their studies interpreted. I decided I really wanted to be more applied instead of a researcher. So, I got a job with a healthcare software company as a trainer and project manager, and ended up as SVP of Operations by the time I left. I was doing account management for a healthcare consulting company that was acquired by IBM. While I was at IBM, one of Accela’s board members contacted me and asked if I would think about coming over and helping them run a profitable services organization. After about a year of interviewing, we came to an agreement, and I’ve been...
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The Mobile Citizen: Winter Storm Jonas, Philly 311 and a New Form of Customer Service (Part 4 of 4)

The Mobile Citizen: Winter Storm Jonas, Philly 311 and a New Form of Customer Service (Part 4 of 4)
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This is the fourth post in a series on "The Mobile Citizen," a look at how the Civic Platform is helping agencies of all sizes engage their mobile citizens and stay ahead of the "mobile mind shift." ------ Late last month, Winter Storm Jonas hit much of the east coast. From Friday, January 22 to Sunday, January 24, the storm affected 102.8 million people and covered about 434,000 square miles in 26 states, according to the NOAA. For many local government officials, Winter Storm Jonas meant around-the-clock work to keep citizens safe, roads accessible and communication constant. In Philadelphia, the nationally renowned Philly 311 call center received more than 21,000 calls (8x more than normal), nearly 8,000 requests via its Accela-powered mobile app and website and 6,000 requests through social media. The efforts of the team behind Philly 311 are evidence of the changing nature of customer service in local...
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