A new platform, which is now being beta-tested by users, is essentially a single place where citizens can find simple links to the online services offered by local governments.
It may be a bit of an understatement to say that government services are scattered online.
Of course, it certainly varies by jurisdiction, but more often than not, residents of a given city must visit disparate websites to find digital services. For example, this could entail visiting one site to pay a parking ticket; another to check on the status of a business license; another to handle taxes; and so on. But a new website is working to consolidate digital services and information for every city across the country on one easy-to-search platform.
That company and its site are called Evergov and it’s currently being beta-tested with live users, said Krishna A. Vaibhav, co-founder of the Bay Area company. The company has so far attracted more than 6,000 users in a number of ways, including ads on Google and Bing.
The website has a simple goal, laid out across the top of its main page: “All your government services in a single place.” Below that is a search bar, where visitors can use to enter the city they live and the service they are looking for. Right now, Vaibhav said, the selection is limited, but the developers are working to add more jurisdictions, services, and functionality to the site, which first launched last year.
“It’s user-centric and still in beta," Vaibhav said. “We still want to learn a lot and see ways that what we’re doing can add more value.”
The way it works now is simple. Once a user enters their city, the site simply brings up a list of available digital services. For example, for Folsom, Calif., where Government Technology is headquartered, the services currently include paying for traffic tickets, submitting public records requests and applying for a fire permit. Below the municipal list is another set of services for the next jurisdiction up, Sacramento County. By following links, users are eventually funneled to the actual government site.
If the platform does not have any services for the city the user lives in, Vaibhav said, the search will be logged and the developers will prioritize that jurisdiction to be added soon. In this way, they hope to find and add the thousands of disparate municipal government resources and services available across the country.
The platform also uses a chatbot to guide users to what they came for, and Vaibhav said there is a possibility that their inquiries can eventually be used in a communicative channel designed to foster better engagements between agencies and their constituents.
When Evergov first launched last year, it was known as Openly, which is still the entity’s corporate name. In the time since it has gone live, Vaibhav said developers learned that the vast majority of users were searching for services from smaller or mid-sized governmental entities. This makes sense, given that state agencies and larger cities have been working for years to consolidate their own digital services and create single login interfaces that save citizens the trouble of navigating to different departments.
Moving forward, Evergov is working to collect more feedback, expand in its coverage, and ideally by May be able to list services for the jurisdictions that cover 82 percent of the country by prioritizing cities with more than 50,000 residents. Although he acknowledged the goal might be overly ambitious, Vaibhav said by June the company is targeting an increase from 6,000 users to somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000.
Figuring out the long-term business model — be it fee-based or another route — is also still a priority.