HAMPTON—Hampton has been named a Top 10 Digital City in the nation for the nineteenth time by the Center for Digital Government (CDG). The annual awards recognize cities utilizing technology to inform and engage the public, tackle social challenges, enhance services, strengthen cybersecurity, and more.
Hampton has won more times than any other large city (125,000 population and up) in Virginia, and was one of eight cities to receive a special award for using technology over the past 20 years to make government better as well as for long-time participation in the survey.
Questions on the entry vary each year and focus on different aspects of technology usage—from citizen engagement to cybersecurity.
This year focused primarily on the city’s response to Covid-19:
- Using technology to connect with citizens for service remotely, including an online appointment scheduling system;
- Laptop deployment and technical support for employees who could work at home;
- The introduction, instruction, and facilitation of Zoom and remote meetings; and
- The increase in the Mayor’s Town Hall meetings, all of which moved to Facebook Live.
Although most special events were canceled, the city’s e-newsletter increased from twice per week to five times per week and became a critical source of information about how to obtain city services when buildings were closed to the public; health and safety information; and, eventually, vaccine availability.
Hampton was praised for using the pandemic as an opportunity to completely rethink how it communicates with citizens. The IT department established an online appointment scheduler that can be accessed through a web app or a city kiosk, allowing residents to set up in-person or Zoom meetings for services such as permits and licensing. Hampton also invested in numerous technology upgrades for its City Council chambers, including high-definition cameras and updated audio so the public could “attend” meetings online.
According to the CDG, a distinctive investment for citizen engagement involves the deployment of digital signage across the city. Hampton now has 69 such monitors within its borders. The signage allows citizens to receive pertinent information at any city building, and all monitors show customized messages pertaining to specific city resources that residents may be interested in. Further, when there is a city emergency, all monitors will display the same information so citizens can know what they need to do during crucial times, no matter where they are within the city.
Another criterion focused on cities’ brand guidelines and consistency of design across departments, and the city was able to highlight its new logo initiative with multiple icons.
“Innovative cities are able to leverage data and harness new technology to enhance the services they provide,” said Center for Digital Government Vice President Phil Bertolini. The Center “congratulates this year’s winners for putting technology to good use toward improving the lives of constituents and strengthening the relationships they have with their partners.”