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Granicus Two-Way Messaging Aims for Interactive Government

The company introduced two-way text messaging for the govDelivery solution, to more directly connect the public sector and residents — but also enhance agencies’ ability to gather feedback and improve services.

Clad in a black leather jacket over a yellow sweater, a person's hands operate a smartphone.
Granicus, a major provider of communications and engagement tools to government, announced several new tech enhancements at its Digital Engagement Virtual Summit conference this week — including a key messaging upgrade.

The company is incorporating two-way text messaging into govDelivery, a platform used by hundreds of government entities in the U.S. for direct outreach to residents via email and SMS. Granicus and govDelivery merged in 2016 with financial backing from Vista Equity Partners, which acquired both.

The update means agencies not only have another avenue to connect with their constituents, but also have access to measurable data about customer reach and engagement, with which to tailor communication strategies. The company used various techniques to make the tool possible, including predictive modeling and visualization dashboards that provide actionable insights from customer data.

During the April summit, Bob Ainsbury, Granicus’ chief product officer, shared examples of how two-way text messaging can make government-to-citizen engagement more personable.

“Through this technology, you can engage thousands or even millions of residents at the same time,” Ainsbury said. “And the residents get this highly personalized experience, which provides a unique opportunity not only to engage them but also to gather additional information. If an agency has their full name and phone number, but no address, and the resident is requesting a removal of trash or surfacing some type of complaint, the agency can gather that data to help as quickly as possible by utilizing this technology.”

More local, state and federal governments have leveraged SMS to engage with citizens over the last few years. According to a Granicus news release April 16 previewing the year’s tech and business priorities, federal agencies sent nearly 148 million SMS messages in 2023, an increase of 10 percent since 2022, and of 22 percent since 2021. Realizing SMS’ value, one federal agency stepped in earlier this year to help smaller agencies access two-way texts in their localities as well.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) unveiled plans in January to help four state and local governments launch the text messaging platform to streamline communication with residents. The pilot included agencies in Norfolk, Va.; Montgomery County, Md.; and the states of Wisconsin and Washington. After implementation, the agencies were able to send customized text messages about application deadlines, interview reminders, fraud reduction and other critical service updates to residents and staff who opted in.

In the months ahead, Granicus will continue evolving its customer experience capabilities. In February, the company announced the acquisition of SmartGov, a cloud-based permitting, compliance, and licensing tool that digitizes services for residents and automates processes for governments.

Each of these investments, per the news release, will help bolster the company’s Government Experience Cloud — a platform housing cloud computing and virtualization tools specifically created for government organizations to help enhance citizen experiences.