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The Road to Virtual Public Meetings: Where to Begin?

COVID-19 prompted an unprecedented shift to virtual in government, including for public meetings.

by Adobe / December 10, 2020
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COVID-19 prompted an unprecedented shift to virtual in government, including for public meetings. For the most part, leaders achieved remarkable success under extremely trying conditions — more than 80 percent of senior executives in state and local government say their jurisdictions have held virtual public meetings and capitalized on electronic documents during the pandemic, according to new research by the Center for Digital Government (CDG). What’s more, 37 percent of the 219 survey respondents also say they expect virtual public meetings will be part of their new normal once the pandemic subsides.

But to turn initiatives for virtual meetings from quick-win, emergency measures into sustainable digitization strategies, government executives will need a mix of initiatives around people, policies and processes, and technology innovation. Where to start? The answer is different for each organization, depending on where it stands in its journey. Here’s a checklist for three broad maturity levels.

LOW MATURITY LEVEL

Characteristics

 

  • Pilots projects for digital documents and electronic signatures
  • A mix of department-level videoconferencing and collaboration platforms
  • Predominantly paper-based processes and document workflows in production systems
  • Ad-hoc technology training and support for end users and citizens
  • Legacy systems for broadcasting and streaming of public meetings
  • Little or no connectivity security for remote workers
  • Open Meetings policies temporarily modified or suspended

 

Implementation Checklist

 

  • Develop enterprise-wide strategies for virtual meetings and remote workplaces
  • Provision laptops and tablets for remote workers
  • Adopt cloud technologies that support remote workers
  • Standardize on one or two enterprise-wide virtual meeting platforms
  • Roll out virtual private networks to secure remote offices
  • Begin the transition to digital documents

 

MEDIUM MATURITY LEVEL

Characteristics

 

  • Support for secure remote offices
  • Widespread use of government-issued laptops and cloud services
  • Enterprise-wide standardization of videoconferencing/collaboration systems
  • Enablement of virtual public meetings for legislative sessions
  • Use of paper-based documents and digital workflows in select departments
  • Updating of some policies and procedures for Open Meetings

 

Implementation Checklist

 

  • Expand the transition to digital documents to digital workflows across multiple departments
  • Install electronic signature applications with intelligent routing capabilities
  • Implement formal training and support for end users and citizens
  • Install applications for virtual public meetings that include tools for citizen engagement
  • Identify new requirements for meeting Open Meeting laws

 

HIGH MATURITY LEVEL

Characteristics

 

  • Digital documents and workflows are the norm in core departments like HR and finance
  • Remote workers have the resources they need to deliver services
  • There is adherence to the latest cybersecurity guidelines
  • Virtual public meetings are enhanced with citizen participation
  • Meeting policies are in place to keep agendas on track even when participation levels grow exponentially

 

Implementation Checklist

 

  • Create a closely integrated environment among digital document management, office automation and virtual meeting platforms
  • Adopt electronic signatures as the first-choice option for official documents
  • Expand electronic signatures to new areas, such as judicial systems
  • Organize digital champions to speed adoption of new technologies
  • Continue to evolve digitization strategies to improve the quality of life in communities

 

To learn more about how to create a solid foundation for modernization around public meetings, download “A Long-Term Strategy for Virtual Meetings: A Government Leader’s Guide to the People, Process and Technology Considerations.”


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