Last updated: February 6, 2020

Local Government Best Practices: Gastonia, NC

An interview with Cameron Freeman, Business Systems Analyst and Technology Services for the City of Gastonia, NC. In this interview, Cameron talks about her digitization projects for the city.
Posted by Andrew Liebelt

A painting of a street in Gastonia, NC

Our ‘Local Government Best Practices’ series profiles innovators in the public sector who are bringing digital transformation to their municipality.

Today we’re featuring Cameron Freeman, Business Systems Analyst and Technology Services for the City of Gastonia, NC.

I’ve been with the city for over 6 years now. I started as an admin assistant for municipal operations where I learned a ton about the city and how incredibly involved it is to operate. After 3 years there I took the opportunity to interview in tech services when a position opened up. My primary responsibility is supporting the utility billing software. My secondary responsibilities are web related – as a technical consultant for the website, intranet, and our GovOS forms.

How did you get involved with local government?

I knew about careers in local government because of my dad.  He has since retired, but he worked at the City of Gastonia for 20 years in tech services. I think that our local government organization has a good reputation—it’s stable, and it was a good fit as I wanted the chance to be part of something that touches the lives of many people, but in a practical way. I love being behind the scenes of initiatives and across the many departments that serve in making real change in our citizens quality of life.

How did you first hear about GovOS?

When we first saw GovOS in 2018, we were all very impressed with the platform, especially how user friendly it was. Digitization has always kind of been “on the horizon” for the city until some other projects were completed.

Why did you decide to go paperless?

Our city was going through some pretty wide sweeping changes: staffing, reorganization, budgets, internal network overhaul, website redesign, etc. I think in the midst of that change we saw an opportunity to update some of our processes and to make things easier for citizens and employees alike. GovOS provides an excellent solution to make forms accessible, easy to use, and easy to update.

The mayor has asked for a few forms to be converted into GovOS Studio, and when that happened our council took notice. It’s nice when the scope has expanded and the mayor points to your department’s projects as being a key initiative. Service doesn’t have to be an enormous act in order to help people…even the little, most simple things can make a difference.

What was implementation of GovOS Studio like?

After we saw the Studio demo, we knew we wanted to push forward with it. It took us about a month to get fully up-and-running with it, during which time we attended the webinars with Andrew and learned a lot about best practices for implementation. He was incredibly helpful.

In the beginning it was just my colleague and I working on digitizing forms. I really just started off experimenting with ideas to give things a try and see what happened. That really helped me understand more of what the platform can do. When the fiscal year settled down, we reached out to other departments and scheduled work sessions so users could dive and create forms on their own. We encouraged each person to bring a form to those sessions and show them what Studio could do to empower them to convert forms on their own.

Name one form or process that’s been changed by GovOS Studio

Studio has enabled several processes to change throughout the City.  Finance and Parks &Recreation have seen the most impact.

For Finance, their biggest form started out as the leak adjustment form (for high water/sewer bills). This relatively simple form asks things like, “When was the repair done?” “Please attach a receipt.” The submitter could easily take a picture of their receipt with their mobile device and submit it. It was one of our most popular form submissions in the beginning. I think when you digitize forms you get better data and a better birds-eye-view of submission volume.

Procedure changes in the city resulted in the Utility Application forms going digital through GovOS. It was quite the undertaking and we received over 2,500 forms in a six month period.  Our Customer Service division within Finance experienced major changes

For Parks it’s definitely the special events application. A new Event Coordinator position enabled a change in the entire process and GovOS has aided greatly in keeping things streamlined and organized.

What’s your favorite GovOS Studio feature?

  • Conditional formatting allowed in web forms
  • The ability to encrypt information to ensure security

Advice for another municipality just starting out with GovOS Studio?

Go for easy wins and start with your simplest forms before trying to build more complex forms. Taking this approach really helped me build confidence with internal users and get comfortable with the platform. This will help familiarize you with all of the features the platform has to offer, and enable you to grow your system as a whole as you grow the number of forms that are available.

Take time to explore the Knowledge Base, University, and Support group. I could not have asked for better training from these resources. The tutorials, videos and images are essential.These tools combined will you and others in your organization launch compliant forms and become autonomous when making future updates.

Education & Inspiration

Resources for Local Government Officials