If all goes to plan, an idea from 2018 to improve San Antonians’ interactions with City government could come to fruition in 2021.

Councilwoman Ana Sandoval (D7) submitted a Council Consideration Request in February 2018 with the general goal of improving resident participation with the City. On Wednesday, City staff recommended that City Council move forward with a $1.82 million contract with an Arizona company to build a “resident connection platform” – a one-stop shop of sorts for engaging with the City.

By making the City apparatus easier to navigate for everyone who lives in San Antonio, staff and City Council members hope to increase resident participation with meetings, surveys, and boards and commissions.

Instead of having residents bounce around from office to office within the City, the new platform aims to consolidate aspects of all of those departments in one digital space so residents know whom they need to contact and how best to reach that person or department, said Laura Mayes, assistant director for government and public affairs.

“[Boards] and commissions, agenda management, surveys, and calendars – all of these tools should talk to each other so that the resident is only interacting with one piece of technology rather than having to set up separate profiles or track different items on our website,” Mayes said.

This also allows the City to see all the ways one resident may engage with City departments, Chief Information Officer Craig Hopkins said.

“The intent of this is not to replace all the core systems across the departments, but to have a core centralized database where [residents’ profiles] are stored and then are shared out across the departments in the council offices,” Hopkins said.

After reviewing nine applications for the project, City staff recommended that Council approve a three-year, $1.82 million contract with Arizona-based technology company Prime Government Solutions, which has worked with client cities such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The contract with PrimeGov would take the City through the implementation of the constituent management system while building a comprehensive event calendar and a survey management tool for the City.

Sandoval applauded Mayes, Hopkins, and the staff who helped put together the project proposal.

“The public sees the City as one entity, even though we’re 12,000 people doing lots of different things,” Sandoval said. “I’m sure many of you in your departments have experienced this. … There is a level of frustration that you hear from the constituent when they’re like, ‘But I already talked to you about this. I told you about this.’ And I love that this is going to help us streamline some of that.”

Council is expected to vote on the contract in early February.

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.