Maintaining seamless citizen services in a city the size of Charlotte, NC, back in 2009, was quite a challenge. From garbage pickup, administering construction permits, to street maintenance, the City its staff and customer service representatives (CSRs) needed to be able to provide a comprehensive and seamless service to its 730,000+ residents. The problem was that City staff and CSRs had to navigate several applications and conduct multiple searches when responding to inquiries and status requests. Not only was this process time consuming and frustrating to citizens, these legacy solutions were intimidating to Charlotte’s staff and CSRs.
To rectify the slow searches and frustration of dated location-based information Virtual Charlotte was developed. Using Virtual Charlotte, the City’s plan was to maintain and store location-based operation information. Though intimidating GIS data sets were to make up a large portion of the system, it was anticipated Virtual Charlotte would be a platform for the City staff and CSRs where operational data is continually and easily updated creating better collaboration and quicker time to fulfillment of citizen requests.
Two and a half years after Virtual Charlotte’s implementation, Charlotte’s citizens and City department employees have fully embraced the visualization tool. Now, various City departments collaborate on Virtual Charlotte to serve as the “all-purpose geospatial viewer for location-based operation information”. It is so easy to use; City staff and CSRs need little training and it has drastically reduced any intimidation created by the vast amounts of GIS data. Virtual Charlotte has performed as anticipated, creating the collaborative environment desired for effective real-time communication and better customer service.
“With Google Maps, the net result is greatly improved access to vital information and visibility into the city’s delivery of public services.” – Jeff Stovall, Chief Information Officer, City of Charlotte
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