Transforming the citizen experience in city government


Citizen experience: Two businessmen discuss something on a tablet with city skyscrapers in the background.

When I transitioned from working in higher education to working for the city of Santa Monica in 2017, I was shocked to find a reliance on paper-based, manual processes. That’s not what you’d expect from a city government with a $40 million municipal fiber network providing ultrafast broadband.

It got me thinking about our citizen experience and how we should improve it to provide secure, anytime, anywhere access to services for our 93,000 constituents.

I also wanted to start getting actionable with our data. We have a lot of data, but without the right technology, those insights remain inaccessible.

I gathered a team of 75 staff from throughout the city, as well as constituents. We spent six months drilling down into what really matters to our citizens to define our strategy, outcomes, goals, and metrics. We needed a people-centric plan not focused on technology but on what technology can achieve.

A platform for the 21st century

After reviewing the solutions on the market, I said to my team, “If we’re going to provide 21st-century services to citizens in the way they need them today, I don’t see any better tool than ServiceNow.”

What really impressed me was the platform’s ability to:

  • Automate workflows and services
  • Fulfill requests
  • Streamline onboarding
  • Underpin our citizen app and portal
  • Ease expansion and extend its scope


Streamlining the citizen experience

After implementing ServiceNow Customer Service Management and IT Service Management (ITSM), the next step was to design the user experience for citizens. We wanted them to be able to access all 311 services from the portal, their smartphone, or a tablet and be able to complete an action in only three steps.

Behind the scenes, ServiceNow replaced a clunky manual process with automatic workflows and case routing, which enabled us to give status updates on citizen cases—whether they report a pothole or access our homeless support services.

We wanted the app to be more than a one-trick pony. It also brings together knowledge and information, and citizens can tick their interests to see relevant updates about events across the city. It’s more of a communication hub than an incident reporting tool.

I’m not convinced any other solution on the market could have done half of what we needed it to. When we were operating with 30% fewer staff during the pandemic, ServiceNow picked up the slack, and that meant we had no disruption to citizen services.

Improving the employee experience

The employee experience is really important to us too. We’re using ServiceNow HR Service Delivery to streamline and digitize onboarding and offboarding and to eliminate paper processes.

This is all part of my Digital City Hall initiative, and I truly see ServiceNow as the platform that can enable digital government services.

Learn more about digital transformation for government.

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