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Learn how internal operations, citizen services and leadership are changing post-COVID


Welcome to the latest issue of The Districts, where we chronicle the people, issues and activities impacting special districts across the U.S.

News Staff / September 2, 2020

It’s time to connect and learn from your peers and industry experts. We have a full slate of important virtual events for special districts planned for the weeks ahead.

The Special Districts Virtual Summit West is just weeks away. Register now and make plans to join us Aug. 25 for 2 hours of insightful and interactive virtual sessions with speakers from utilities, libraries, park districts, transit agencies, and more. We’ll dig deep into lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic response and offer advice on how special districts can prepare for what comes next. Hear from your peers about how they’re adapting internal operations, reimagining user experience and adjusting leadership strategies to deal with the uncertainties of 2020 and beyond.

Then, on Sept.10 we’ll give you a comprehensive look at how legislative policies across the nation are changing to adapt to a post-COVID world. Our Legislative Virtual Summit brings together a panel of legislative and industry experts who’ll break down top policy trends in a one-hour interactive session. Register now to hear how these trends may impact your district and get tips on what to watch for in the future.

Finally, mark your calendar for the Special Districts Virtual Summit Central on Sept. 17. This interactive 2 hour event brings together district leaders from our central region for an important discussion on how internal operations, citizen services and leadership techniques are evolving to cope with post-COVID realities.

Awards: Don’t Miss Your Chance

It’s not too late to submit your nomination for a 2020 Special Districts Innovation Award. We’ve retooled this year’s program to showcase technologies and leadership related to COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. We want to hear your story – but time is running out. Submissions are due by Sept. 25. Choose from three award categories:

Technology Innovation: Citizens — Making services available online, sharing new information, deploying new engagement tools, etc.

Technology Innovation: Operations — Deploying remote work initiatives, reengineering business processes, enhancing security, etc.

Technology Innovation: Leadership — Recognizing special district officials who have led innovative and bold responses to COVID-19

District Spotlight: Transforming Transit Ticketing

The COVID-19 pandemic is prompting public transit districts to rethink how citizens purchase tickets.

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (CapMetro) in Austin, Texas, is one of several public transit operators that is upgrading fare-collection systems to offer mobile ticketing, account-based fare programs and contactless payments. CapMetro will introduce upgrades later this year to provide “tap and go” payments, as well as features that let riders load their accounts in cash at retail locations, giving “unbanked” riders an entry into the contactless fare system.

“It has always been our goal to offer contactless solutions to decrease dwell time and improve trip on-time performance, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for less interaction between customers, equipment and bus operators took on a much higher priority,” said CapMetro spokesperson Jenna Maxfield.

Orange County Transportation Authority in California is another district updating its fare-collection technology. The authority recently announced plans to modernize its mobile ticketing system – part of a general trend among transit agencies to integrate account management and fare payment into mobile devices.

Read the rest of the story.

More Articles Worth a Read

Here are more stories from special districts around the country. Share your own news with us for inclusion in the next newsletter.

The Tennessee Valley Authority reversed a move to outsource 200 crucial IT jobs to foreign-based firms. Under pressure from the Trump administration, the massive public energy provider cancelled the outsourcing initiative and will offer jobs to employees who were laid off previously under the plan.

Transit leaders seek $32 billion in relief funding from Congress. The American Public Transportation Association says funds will help transit systems maintain vital services amid steep declines in ridership and revenue.

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority reports an uptick in ridership after record lows in spring due to the coronavirus. The authority says ridership began to rebound in June, although volume remains about half of what it was a year ago.

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