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National League of Cities Recap: Live from Nashville!

National League of Cities Recap: Live from Nashville!
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Several of my Accela colleagues and I recently spent the better part of a week in Nashville, Tennessee, for the annual National League of Cities conference . Compliments to the staff at NLC and the Nashville Host Committee for throwing a fantastic conference, and to the City of Nashville for being such a welcoming place to spend a few days in early November. It was a busy conference for Accela, with numerous presentations to give, an expo booth to run, educational sessions to attend, perhaps a few honky tonk bars to check out… but most importantly, thousands of customers to speak with. Here’s a quick run-through of Accela’s high points for the week. Reinventing the Business of Government panel Maury Blackman, our President and CEO, joined Stonly Baptiste, co-founder of Urban.us, Peter Pirnejad, Palo Alto’s Development Services Director, and moderator Aimee Rawlins, Startup & Innovation Editor for CNN Money, to...
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The Case for Modernizing the Alcohol and Marijuana Licensing Process

The Case for Modernizing the Alcohol and Marijuana Licensing Process
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Licensing is an intricate process, and for good reason — it is incumbent on governments to protect their communities, and they need a lot of information to make an accurate assessment of regulated businesses. What they don’t need, though, is all the paper pushing and managing data across multiple systems. Having worked in government myself, I know that regulatory restrictions make change difficult. But while cumbersome methods may work okay for awhile, even a small shift in balance (new regulation, new responsibilities, new requirements) can quickly topple any tentative stability. Things work, until suddenly they don’t. For example, take a look at three real-world scenarios below: After wrestling with four different systems to manage applications, renewals, and citations across 67 different counties, the State of Alabama’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board began searching for a consolidated licensing regulatory system – but had limited funding and infrastructure to manage the new...
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Keeping Track of What Is Happening in My Community with Civic Insight: Creating an Amazon.com experience for government…and much more

Keeping Track of What Is Happening in My Community with Civic Insight: Creating an Amazon.com experience for government…and much more
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Today, I am proud to announce that Accela has entered into a strategic partnership with Civic Insight. In this blog post, I will discuss three tangible benefits Accela customers and citizens will gain from bringing the Civic Insight team into Accela. 1. Understanding what is going on in my neighborhood At Accela, we take a lot of inspiration from our neighbors in the Bay Area that are disrupting the way we do things. As such, we have also closely followed the success of nextdoor.com, which makes it easy for citizens to be up to date on what’s going on in their communities. We believe Civic Insight, which gives residents a new level of transparency – from what type of commercial property is being developed four blocks over, to keeping track of home improvement projects their neighbors are working on – is the logical extension of the idea of localization and...
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The Mobile Citizen: What Makes a Good Mobile Tool? (Part 2 of 4)

The Mobile Citizen: What Makes a Good Mobile Tool? (Part 2 of 4)
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This is the second post in a series on "The Mobile Citizen," a look at how the Civic Platform is helping agencies of all sizes engage their mobile citizen and stay ahead of the "mobile mind shift." ------ What makes a good mobile tool? This was the question I was asking myself as I read the results of the annual Digital Cities Survey . The survey identified technologies and initiatives that cities are likely to have an increased focus on in the coming year. Mobile technology ranked in the top 3, behind only cybersecurity and open data. As I thought about good examples I’ve seen as both a student of government and working in the industry, I kept coming back to a  quote from Philadelphia CIO Adel Ebeid. To paraphrase, he said that a successful mobile tool solves a real pain point as opposed to being just "cool and fun."...
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Making the Case for a Local Version of the U.S. Digital Service in California

Making the Case for a Local Version of the U.S. Digital Service in California
A California version of the highly acclaimed U.S. Digital Service (USDS) just took a big leap forward. In its recently released report , the Little Hoover Commission, a bipartisan government oversight committee, has called on elected officials in Sacramento to create a local version of the federal program in the form of a new California Digital Service (CDS). For background, the USDS was created by President Obama in 2014 to make it easier and more efficient for Americans to interact with government services. The agency offers designers, engineers, product managers and others from the private sector the opportunity to work for the government for a week, a month or a year, and the work being done is impressive and impactful—from  improving services for America’s veterans, to modernizing our immigration system, to helping Americans access healthcare. In a blog post on TechCrunch back in March, I called on California Governor Jerry...
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The Mobile Citizen: Reach Them Where They Are (Part 1 of 4)

The Mobile Citizen: Reach Them Where They Are (Part 1 of 4)
There's a shift happening in how we get information, use services and communicate with others. It's a mobile shift. Forrester, a leading market research firm, calls it the "mobile mind shift" and describes it as an "expectation that I can get what I want in my immediate context and moments of need." As companies like Uber and Amazon continue to leverage mobile technology to reach customers during these specific "mobile moments," it's not as easy for government to engage their "mobile" citizens. Why? Because, unlike businesses, governments can't target their customers with a service tailored to a specific need. Government must serve everyone by delivering a multitude of services as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. At Accela, we believe that governments, regardless of size, should have the best tools to meet their residents where they are, when they need it. With the Accela Civic Platform, citizens are able to use...
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