New Industries Add Regulatory Concerns For State Government


Accela has released the results of its inaugural State of Civic Tech survey. The survey which was completed at Accela’s annual user conference highlights policy shifts underway in state government as a result of new technologies.

Of those surveyed, 70% were government IT professionals, analysts and engineers, 30% held C-level, director and manager titles within their respective jurisdictions.

Among the new issues included in the survey, more than half of all respondents believe regulation of marijuana, sharing economy services, like AirBnb and Uber, and drones are of utmost importance. The survey also revealed insights on open data, trust in government, and challenges facing government workforce recruitment.

“What we’re seeing is that governments are relying on technology in order to be able to be responsive to changing policy concerns,” explains Tim Woodbury, Director of Government Relations at Accela in an interview with CivSource. “When you think about it many of these industries like short-term rentals or marijuana, are operating already, largely illegally. But, cities are voting to legalize and regulate at an increased rate and so the license types and technology have to be there on day one.”

According to the findings, 33 percent of government respondents believe they do not have enough time to get their job done and innovate on new processes or technologies. That’s pushed respondents to focus on more incremental advances. “When you think about who in your jurisdiction is renting rooms, these are people who are already tech savvy if they’re using services like Homeaway or AirBnb. So being able to put that permitting interaction online fairly quickly, is going to meet the needs of those people,” Woodbury adds.

In some cases, cities have modified online permitting modules to respond to new policies or handle seasonal issues like beach permits. Those modifications can be replicated by other cities. “The good news is that governments can and want to share, so one of our takeaways is how willing local governments are to tell other local governments how to do things,” Woodbury notes. But going forward, more will need to be done to capture tech-savvy millennials. 44 percent of government respondents in the survey also believe governments must increase social media engagement, more frequently attend college career days and adopt more technology to engage to encourage and inspire millennials to join government agencies.