Building on the early successes of moving citizen-facing services online, the city of Indianapolis is broadening digital transformation efforts, adding new facets through new partnerships.
The city first partnered with CityBase in 2016 after the company won a contract to make municipal services more accessible. The company would create a “digital city hall” at Indy.gov, where residents can locate information and complete tasks such as paying utility bills, filing land use applications and identifying open bid opportunities.
“Indy.gov is the fullest expression of a CityBase platform,” company CEO Mike Duffy said. “We parsed around 3,000 static pages with redundant content into the smallest unit possible in order to make it easier for residents to navigate the website.”
The benefit of this approach, he said, is it helps residents find, apply and pay for services they need and creates an open line of communication between citizens and local government departments and officials.
Indianapolis has also worked with eCivis and OpenCounter to further the city’s digital transformation goals.
Elliot Patrick, CIO of Indianapolis, said eCivis has provided a comprehensive grant management platform and assisted city-county agencies with transitioning to a virtual environment.
“Last year, we were tasked with getting city-county agencies to work remotely and helping our grants management team manage around $168 million in grants, which we were given through the CARES Act,” Patrick said.
At the time, Indianapolis was not fully equipped with the tools to administer and handle those dollars, Patrick said, so the city looked for partners to work with and saw that eCivis was a “top option.”
The company began working with Indianapolis in July 2020 and came up with a two-part plan to address the city’s concerns.
“The first part that we focused on was streamlining and automating the grant management process to make the administration of grant funding more efficient,” eCivis CEO James Ha said. “The second part was the distribution of funds in the community and making sure that our grants management system syncs well with the city’s existing technology to enhance this process.”
Ha said that through his company’s grant management platform, the process of applying for grants has been simplified, and the administrative burden of tracking grants has been greatly reduced.
Two online tools from OpenCounter round out Indianapolis’ recent digital shift. One tool helps applicants understand zoning and planning processes, while the other explains what the city’s permitting process entails.
“Indianapolis has been our customer since 2014,” OpenCounter CEO Joel Mahoney said. “Our online ZoningCheck tool helps those in the early stages of their business planning process by helping them understand where in the city they can open up their business.”
The company’s second tool, called the Business Portal, determines which permits applicants will need, what incentives they have access to and how much the whole permitting process will cost.
“From a technology perspective, this project has been one of our largest moves into a cloud-based infrastructure,” Patrick said. “I think one of the biggest things about this partnership is that it allows citizens to use their phone, tablet or laptop to do things that they once had to come to city hall to do, whether that’s paying bills, filling out zoning applications, you name it.”
“Now,” he added, “citizens can access local service providers or communicate with government agencies and departments at the click of a button.”
Never miss a story with the daily Govtech Today Newsletter.