How Zoom is enabling agencies to reinvent government services

Written by Matt Mandrgoc

Matt Mandrgoc is the US Public Sector Lead for Zoom Video Communications.

One of the silver linings emerging from the pandemic for state and local governments was that officials began to reinvent how to use video communications to interact with the public and deliver services.

Matt Mandrgoc, US Public Sector Manager, Zoom Video Communications

For many state and local departments, this reimagining began out of necessity — understanding how to conduct public hearings, process DMV requests, keep hearings on track, and meet countless other civic needs when meeting in person isn’t was suddenly no longer an option. The inability to do business in person has fundamentally disrupted the ability of agencies to carry out their missions. Government employees had to find other ways to work together even as they faced the reality of working separately from each other.

Working for or with government also requires a different set of security protocols, which the Zoom for Government platform was designed to adhere to. Zoom for Government is FedRAMP authorized at the moderate level, allowing government employees to securely deploy specific applications necessary for their job and protect the exchange of crucial data.

When the pandemic hit, agencies not only quickly adapted to Zoom’s collaboration platform, but they also used the platform as a catalyst for innovation. And perhaps more than that, we’ve seen how modern video communications can foster greater engagement between state and local governments and their citizens – and improve the quality of government services as a result.

Broaden citizen engagement

We have seen many examples of this innovation. Arrange public hearings – if I want to attend an in-person public hearing to express my views on community issues, I may not be on time due to traffic or have to leave early to catch a other commitment. But as the Omaha City Council findings, public hearings held virtually on Zoom reduce these previous barriers, with the platform facilitating better engagement, increasing participation and giving board members access to a wider range of viewpoints.

The council voted unanimously earlier this year to allow members of the public to comment on agenda items – from their kitchen tables or from their jobs if necessary. And members of the Omaha City Council weren’t the only ones rethinking their processes. After seeing the benefits of virtual testimony in public hearings, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts issued an executive order allowing it permanently in Nebraska.

Video communications can also help increase access to justice. During the COVID-19 restrictions, courts at all levels found that Zoom not only provided an efficient way to conduct hearings, but also made it easier for voters to participate in hearings who otherwise struggled to overcome barriers. physical or financial. Justice system officials discovered how Zoom’s platform improved the court experience — helping to defuse family arguments, reduce in-person anxieties, and encourage more attendance. By allowing participants to appear virtually, court teams have also simplified scheduling and reduced hearing times.

For example, the Texas Judiciary reported that more than 2,000 state judges had successfully conducted more than one million hearings via Zoom, as of February 2021. Texas also hosted dozens of jury trials and grand jury proceedings via Zoom and was the first state to ask its nine-member Supreme Court to conduct oral arguments remotely via Zoom.

Empowerment of public officials

We also saw how Zoom’s platform gave employees greater communication options to connect and collaborate with each other, allowing them to use the device that worked best for them or best suited to the situation. With Zoom Phone, for example, agencies can also benefit from a variety of productivity and security features, such as the ability to support customers in an environment that supports HIPAA compliance. Calls can also be easily redirected to employees whether they are working in the office or from home, providing greater productivity and better service to constituents.

We’ve also seen how Zoom has helped public officials communicate timely information to entire communities, making announcements about school openings and vaccinations, for example, or hosting live and recorded meetings on public policy positions. This ability can help officials not only engage with constituents more quickly and effectively, but it can also help increase transparency and trust.

Another example of Zoom enabling agency executives to reimagine their operations could be seen in their expanded vision of recruiting staff from a wider circle of talent. This is especially important for counties and municipal agencies serving remote rural communities hoping to attract experienced and talented remote workers.

And since Zoom’s platform was developed from the ground up to support video, voice, and collaboration services seamlessly in low-bandwidth environments, it performs well even in remote areas while providing world-class experience at scale for large communities.

These and other examples represent more than stopgap measures taken by government agencies to provide services when in-person meeting was suddenly no longer an option. They offered insight into what government services and citizen engagement can look like today – and how public agencies could build on these innovations in the future.

Learn more on how Zoom Video Communications is helping the public sector reinvent citizen engagement.

Ashley C. Reynolds