Chicago, Indianapolis Bet Big on User-Centric Design

Source: GovTech on March 29, 2018 | Skip Descant

Paying a water bill or filing a business license fee in Chicago is getting easier. The city has organized payments under one platform and launched the application on 50 new kiosks to be arranged around the city — in locations as varied as police stations to libraries — with the aim of making certain transactions with Chicago quicker and more seamless. The kiosks are expected to roll out this summer.

“We’re creating a new ‘user-centric’ experience for consumers, and de-couple what goes on in the city from the agency hierarchy that is so often projected onto constituents,” said Mike Duffy, CEO and founder of CityBase, the software company leading the project. The platform’s broad applicability can be thought of as “one application expressed through as many channels as possible,” he said.

“And even the kiosks — or point of sale — are being run from a cloud-based application. For example, a receipt is generated in the cloud a split-second before being printed at one of those in-person terminals,” said Duffy.

Central to the design is a payment system that is accessible and serves all populations, including residents who don’t have a bank account or are unfamiliar with technology. Generally speaking, these residents pay city bills with cash and in person. Chicago handles about 1.7 million “walk-in transactions” every year, which represents about a third of the total number of payments transacted with the city.

“From inception, a central tenet of CityBase has been to use technology to grow equity in cities, and support the most challenged demographic in our city,” said Duffy.

Officials in Chicago could not be reached for comment on the project.

The company also worked with the city of Indianapolis to create the site, which brings numerous city departments under one platform, with the goal of making interactions more user-friendly. The site launched in May 2017.

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