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The role of utility bill payment software in fostering digital inclusion

Government as a Service

Constituent participation leads to a thriving government. Agencies that embrace digitization allow the development of an agile, flexible and efficient public administration that encourages residents to adopt online interactions with the government.

With the aid of utility bill payment software, government institutions can provide better citizen experiences. Online utility payment solutions also encourage residents in remote areas to get internet access to enjoy the convenience of digital government services.   

Key takeaways: 

  • Resident participation depends heavily on government performance. 
  • Utility payment software contributes to government digital transformation. 
  • Striving for digital inclusion strengthens constituents’ trust in an administration. 

What is digital inclusion

Digital inclusion is a socio-technological process that involves providing individuals, marginalized groups and communities with access to digital resources and technologies to enable them to benefit from a growing information world.

According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, digital inclusion is “the ability of individuals and groups to access and use information and communications technologies.”

As of April 2022, about 27% of the global population does not use the internet. Additionally, a study by Pew Research reveals that 7% of U.S. adults report not using the internet. As such, there is a need to bridge the gap between age groups that are highly competent at operating digital tools and those that are not.

Aside from access—which is a major barrier to achieving digital equity—there are different reasons why people may not use the internet. Some of these limitations are subtle and may be easily overlooked in light of more obvious reasons. 

  • Awareness. While some have access to digital technology, they are not aware of opportunities around them. 
  • Confidence. According to the Entrust State of Consumer Data Privacy Survey, only about 21% of consumers trust global brands to secure their data. Some constituents are cautious of being victims of identity theft and other online crimes. 
  • Skill. While accessing digital resources may be relatively easy in environments such as public libraries, for example, operating some technology can be difficult for those who are unfamiliar with computers. 
  • Motivation. Some constituents do not feel the need to use digital tools since they have spent the better part of their lives without technology. 

Enabling digital equity goes beyond a social responsibility 

Although it is the responsibility of the government to protect and provide for its residents, the need for digital inclusion goes beyond duty. 

Per the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report, digitization will displace about 75 million jobs and introduce about 133 million new jobs. Positioning your constituents to benefit from this evolving market will yield multiple benefits. 

  • Higher standard of living. Access to digital tools and resources arms each resident with the right information to improve their emotional, mental and physical well-being. The collective improvement in a constituency increases the standard of living. 
  • Better health outcomes. Digital resources ensure that information circulates fairly quickly. This awareness can prevent the escalation of certain health hazards such as a pandemic, an outbreak of diseases and terminal illnesses such as breast cancer.  
  • Balanced income levels. Digital inclusion gives every resident access to information that could help them tap into opportunities in international markets. Residents with skills that are not very relevant in their geographical area can apply their knowledge elsewhere and improve their economic status, balancing the income levels in the state. 
  • Reduction in government liability. Not only does digital inclusion level the ground for all residents, online job opportunities reduce the number of unemployment checks government agencies distribute monthly. 

An accessible government empowers citizens to make inquiries and take decisions of national and international impact, which could be economically profitable for any administration. For example, individuals who establish private companies from digital opportunities such as online education can partner with the government to provide learning materials for the city at a fraction of the cost. 

Resident utility billing software can drive government digital transformation

The globalization of information has driven the expectation of government efficiency and service delivery among constituents, shaping trends of digital transformation in the public sector. Government institutions are under pressure to deliver services better and are aiming for a functional e-government.

Based on a 2021 survey by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), providing better resident experiences has been the biggest driver of expanding digital services. 

Utilities, which provide necessities such as water and waste management, form a considerable part of each constituent’s experience. Offering tools such as resident utility billing software can promote the efficiency of government agencies and encourage civic engagement, especially for constituents who are unmotivated to use digital technology. 

A payment software reduces the time spent commuting to government offices or mailing checks as residents can pay bills at the touch of a button. This convenience encourages the adoption of technology and fosters digital inclusion. 

Government institutions can also gather feedback from constituents by offering incentives for taking surveys through an online solution. Since this process is swift and offers a reward, constituents are very likely to participate. 

Action-oriented leadership will sustain consistent service delivery

Digitization requires constant development and adaptation. To keep up with growing technological trends that will ensure digital equity, there is a need for intentional leadership. 

Adopting proven strategies taken by non-state actors—establishing internal centers of intelligence within government agencies that make informed decisions on technological infrastructure—will result in a consistent and efficient municipal billing process. 

The City of Grand Rapids, in its commitment to elevating the quality of life of residents, partnered with PayIt to provide a user-friendly solution. GR PayIt is an online utility payment solution that enables residents to find, view and pay water and refuse bills, schedule automatic payments for water bills and store digital receipts of utilities paid.

grPayIt web and mobile overview

 

As of July 2021, the City of Grand Rapids had collected $143 million dollars in online utility revenue. There was a 27% increase in online revenue collected between 2019 and 2020, which shows that a user-friendly municipal payment solution will increase constituent adoption of online payments. 

Bridge the digital divide with PayIt 

Providing enhanced digital functionalities and better experiences for your constituents regardless of their location at any given time strengthens the faith in your administration. Book a demo with our team of experts to learn how you can improve the connection between your government and your residents. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What approach does PayIt take to make utility solutions available to residents wherever they are? 

PayIt provides solutions on multiple devices such as desktop and laptop computers, tablets and mobile (web and apps) to enable government agencies to deliver digital services and payments consistently. 

What role does utility bill payment software play in the agenda for a connected city?

The adoption of digital payment methods has witnessed a considerable rise since the pandemic. Utilities such as waste collection and electricity are services all constituents need. By providing resident billing software, government institutions can create a platform that links all constituents. 

How can government agencies measure success with municipal bill payment software?

By reviewing reports and analytics of constituents who use the payment software and online utility revenue collected, government agencies can measure digital adoption and success.