Granicus: Powering the Future of Civic Engagement

Granicus: Powering the Future of Civic Engagement

 Jason Fletcher, CEO For government agencies, cloud solutions and software stand as today’s wonder drug—powering open, transparent, and participatory initiatives.

For instance, community members in New York City’s 100th Precinct can voice their concern over double-parked cars or illegal graffiti, directly to the NYPD through a cloud-based ideation platform.

Although public-sector organizations have been sceptical in the past about adopting cloud computing—owing to policy and security concerns—a large number today recognize cloud services as the easiest way to connect with communities, be more agile, and respond faster to constituent needs. Validating the eminence of cloud, a recent study by Market Research Media states the global government cloud-computing market is expected to grow at 6.7 percent CAGR through2020, generating $118 Bn in revenue.

Within this scenario, with nearly 1,300 government clients across North America, Granicus' cloud-based solutions and product suites shine as a best fit, empowering agencies at all levels of government—local, state, federal and special districts—to effectively streamline their workflows, better manage and more efficiently deliver legislative information, and significantly reduce operational costs.

“Our cloud approach also enables us to attain infrastructure flexibility and develop innovative feature sets in our software at a much more rapid pace as opposed to traditional software development,” states Jason Fletcher, CEO, Granicus.

Currently Granicus manages a highly reliable legislative content network containing more than five million government media files and public records, in total containing more than 400 TB of data hosted in Granicus’ cloud. To facilitate complete partnership between citizens and government, Granicus’ highlighted solutions include live webcasting of public meetings and video archival, complete agenda and legislative management software, in-meeting efficiency solutions, and tools for automating boards and commission management processes.

Simplifying Agenda Workflows through Automation
To help government bodies achieve new levels of automation, the company's legislative management suite is powered by Legistar, an agenda creation tool, which uses a cloud-based database to track and store legislative items. Supported with nearly 30 years of development, Legistar— in use by 25 of the 50 largest cities in the United States—is configurable and allows users to manage the entire legislative process, from drafting agenda items to publishing the final minutes online. The legislative management suite enables government entities to organize and store electronic documents in one system, maintain all legislative data, and track each item’s path through the entire process.

“In addition, Legistar features a deep and rich reporting engine, enables a sync with video streaming and allows staff to quickly and easily publish agenda, minutes, and documents on the web through our mobile application,” explains Fletcher.

Granicus was the first company to bring cloud-hosted streaming solutions to the government sector

From a video perspective, Granicus’ hosted infrastructure provides governments with unlimited bandwidth for streaming broadcasts of public meetings and other public functions from all departments. This significant innovation in streaming video—Granicus was the first company to bring cloud-hosted streaming solutions to the government sector—provides public organizations with the capacity to reach their citizens online in a more effective and transparent manner.

Reimagining its agenda management approach based on years of experience working with municipal clerks, Granicus recently introduced Peak Agenda Management, a browser-based agenda management software designed to serve agencies and municipalities with less complex agenda creation workflows and systems. Based on the principles of agile and scrum, Peak features the latest user experience techniques doesn’t restrict users to a specific platform or browser. In helping create the fastest, easiest and most supported agenda creation experience for public officials, Peak includes features like auto-population of fields and drag and drop editing, so that creating agendas can be streamlined and more efficient.

As a case in point, the Borough of Emmaus, PA, was facing challenges around its manual method of agenda creation, which was entirely paper-based. When items for upcoming meetings came into the Borough manager’s office, paper copies were printed out and placed in binders for each council member, the Borough solicitor, and the local press.

“The amount of man hours spent on delivering the binders to the homes of council members was not only labor-intensive but also time consuming,” remarks Fletcher.

After evaluating several agenda management solutions in the market, the Borough decided on Granicus’ Peak Agenda Management solution, a right fit in terms of functionality and cost.

With Peak, the client can now draft and publish agenda items and files for public meetings with configurable approval workflows, drag-and-drop editing and real-time agenda compilation. Combined with iLegislate—Granicus' tablet agenda application—the Borough's meeting preparation process was also transformed through instant digital delivery of agenda packets via tablet devices. The client saved approximately $30,000 in paper and the cloud-based software helped create and manage agendas with a couple of clicks.

Bringing Transparency for a Transformed Government
To aid governments in dynamic and intelligent content presentation, Granicus acquired in late 2015 Civica Software, a San Diego-based government website content management provider.

“By integrating Civica's web Content Management System (CMS) with our product offerings, public-sector agencies can not only build websites that are easy to configure and use by staff, but that also display the most important and relevant content that citizens want—which is legislative content—in a better, more seamless presentation,” points Fletcher.

“Our clients more and more will be able to easily present critical content to citizens online while saving staff time in managing and updating their websites.”

Re-architecting and Reinvigorating Solutions
In its quest to integrate the latest and most feature-rich technologies into its solutions, Granicus is committed to building open architectures that are not only stable but also highly secure.

According to reports from Market Research Media, the U.S. Federal cybersecurity market size is estimated to grow from $18 Billion in 2017 to $22 Billion by 2022, at a steady CAGR of 4.4 percent. As federal, state and local offices become more open to cloud solutions and other technology innovations, it is integral for the government to protect information systems from cyber theft and damage.

"In the immediate future, Granicus is aiming at offering robust, intuitive and easy-to-use tools
for smaller jurisdictions and their legislative and engagement processes

“Granicus is focused on constantly improving the efficiency of our security vaults and ensuring that the communication points in our system are encrypted,” says Fletcher.

In addition, to constantly better their software delivery process, the company has a rigorous user experience research team as well as a customer support group in place.

“On one hand, we have a distinctive and specialized team to handle client queries while on the other, we are significantly investing in expanding our product set through innovations, for a holistic approach,” informs Fletcher.

In the immediate future, Granicus is aiming at offering robust, intuitive and easy-to-use tools for smaller jurisdictions and their legislative and engagement processes.

“We plan on extending our solutions to fit the needs of small cities and different department sizes, while of course continuing to support the very large-scale implementations we’ve done and will continue to do,” says Fletcher.

"Our cloud approach also enables us to attain infrastructure flexibility and develop innovative feature sets in our software at a much more rapid pace as opposed to traditional software development"

In a hyper-connected world, consumers today are reluctant to wait in long lines, or mail paper forms when it comes to dealing with cumbersome government procedures—and federal agencies are soon realizing that. Today e-government solutions, cloud, mobile technology and accessible web portals is redefining the interaction between the public and the public sector, and in the days ahead, Granicus will leverage government and citizen engagement while remaining compliant with various laws.

“Moving ahead, our goal is to pursue aggressive and strategic growth and instil a culture of high performance, so that Granicus can continue to deliver exceptional government technology for years to come,” ends the CEO.

- Sandeepa Majumdar
    April 05, 2016