Three of our partner cities from Florida joined us for a webinar to share their best practices, experiences, and opportunities they identified for “going digital” throughout the Covid Crisis. Our speakers included Michael Cernech - City Manager of Tamrac; Terra Spero - Social Media Strategist at Pompano Beach; and Edwin Poole - Performance Management Coordinator at Sanford.
- Create “hybrid events” (online+offline) - These types of events allowed the city to retain the brands of activities that the community already knows, while presenting them in a different way. Additionally, the city could extend its audience reach (double), get more information about their audience, and expand the pool of available performers.
- Virtual 4th of July events - Instead of putting on fireworks just on one side of town (the beach), they live streamed them to allow access to everybody.
- Attract tourists by giving a sense of space - People are looking for places that are not packed with people right now. Use photos of spacious areas (e.g. less populated beaches) and even suggest new attractions in the city like a farmers garden.
- Reach people where they are - messaging about issues like hurricane preparedness or the census are tough because the focus is all on Covid-19. They used Zencity to identify where the relevant conversations are taking place and bring their message there.
- Adversity is a great opportunity to promote organizational change
- Residents are going to expect the new type of services from now on - The city transformed a lot of the leisure activities (e.g. fitness classes, employment workshops) to recorded online classes. That increased the audience but also created a new kind of experience that residents are now going to expect indefinitely.
- Rethinking the EOC and crisis management - Tamarac is experienced in planning for Hurricanes, but even those plans are changing - with social distancing EOC’s cannot be populated with all the people they regularly include. This initiated a rethinking process that most cities will likely face - who is vital for the EOC? Is the city using the resources and staff that can be available at the EOC correctly?
- Keeping a fresh perspective moving forward is paramount - This new situation forces cities to reevaluate the things they say “yes” to, the things they say “no” to, and the reasons behind those decisions. Cities need to take this opportunity to consider what they shouldn’t be doing any more, and take risks on remaking local government in light of the new circumstances we are all facing.
- Use telecommuting systems that anyone can use simply and easily - Sanford put in place an infrastructure that workers could adopt quickly, which made the transition to working remotely much more smoother.
- Use success in the transition of some processes to change others - Bidding processes have been converted from paper-based to online and efficiency has gone up, alongside worker satisfaction. This created motivation in the city to evaluate even more processes that can be changed.
- Reopen safely using online tools - The City’s IT created a Covid self monitoring form that every employee fills out every day - which allows the city to monitor the health of its staff, and also have a way to get direct feedback from employees, instead of sending out an email and hoping they will answer.
- Use data to support local businesses - Utilizing Zencity the City identified the pains and difficulties of the cities downtown businesses. Following that, they sent out a survey to get even more detailed data on the impact on local businesses, and they used that data to determine needs, set resources for paycheck retention and grant requests, and respond (e.g. lift restriction on sidewalk space to allow restaurants to spread out seating).