September 23, 2020

Curate’s new client dashboard makes it easier to track local legislation trends

By Emily Thrasher, Product Manager

Screen Shot 2020-09-23 at 7.07.09 PM

 

For the past year or so, the Curate team has been quietly working on a complete redesign of our client dashboard for local policy tracking, and over the next two months we will roll it out to all of our customers. 

 

When I joined Curate full-time a year ago, we made an important realization: the weekly reports we were sending our customers didn’t tell the whole story about local policy change. 

 

The associations and corporations that use our civic intelligence software need to understand how discussions happening in municipal governments today fit into larger local policy trends. So we’ve rebuilt our dashboard to feel more like a chronological feed that is sortable by topic and location. 

 

With the new design, clients can visually see where discussions are happening around the country, and at a glance see which topics came up within the last week. 

 

This new feature will help all of our clients stay on top of local policy trends and quickly determine whether they need to spring into action to support or oppose an ordinance or resolution.  

 

Say a client is tracking 12 separate policy issues in six states. When they log in to Curate, they’ll see a map of their coverage area with pins dropped on all of the municipalities where one of the topics they cover has recently been mentioned in a meeting agenda or minutes. They’ll also see a listing of all of the topics they cover, and a notification next to each topic indicating how many discussions related to that topic came up in the last week (or whatever time period they select). 

 

 

When they open a topic, they’ll see a chronological feed of related discussions, starting with the most recent on top. Within each document, they can quickly skip through the text to review each relevant mention. 

 

Looking at each topic, clients will immediately be able to understand the history of local discussions on that subject.

 

As we’ve gotten to know our clients better, we’ve learned that not all local policy topics are created equal. Some topics come up every week but don’t require immediate action, while others only pop up every once in a while and demand an urgent response. The new design will help them prioritize their response to discussions on the topics they cover. 

 

Rolling out these major improvements to our local policy monitoring tool is the fun part of working in a startup. We want to make sure the new features we introduce solve problems for our customers, so we created a customer advisory board last year to help us get to know our customers better.

 

That advisory board allowed us to take in feedback from customers about what would make our tool even more useful and translate that feedback into features we could create. Building those features required us to make significant changes on the backend, which led to new realizations about ways we could improve the user experience. 

 

We’ve beta tested the new layout with a few customers, and the feedback has been excellent. Customers say the redesign helps them zero in on what’s important to them faster than in the past. And they love that they can get a bird’s eye view of the history of a specific topic in any municipality within seconds. 

 

When an association wants to update its members on the policy landscape across the state, or if they want to lobby the state government to pass legislation about an issue that is bubbling up at the local level, all they have to do is select that topic from the dashboard and they’ll instantly see the whole history of relevant discussions across the state for the time period they select. 

 

It’s incredibly rewarding to roll the new design out to customers and hear that they love what we’ve built. 

 

Ready to see our new local policy tracking tool for yourself? Schedule a discovery call to see how we can help you transform your local government advocacy program. 

September 14, 2020

Civic Intelligence for Business 101: Why businesses should monitor local policy change

By Taralinda Willis

Policies - Red Ring Binder on Office Desktop with Office Supplies and Modern Laptop. Business Concept on Blurred Background. Toned Illustration.

 

In an effort to leverage technology to build more efficient businesses, many companies are embracing the field of business intelligence, which transforms data into “actionable insights that inform an organization’s strategic and tactical business decisions,” according to CIO.com

 

Typically, business intelligence focuses on gathering information about the internal factors that influence a business’s success. It might take in data such as downtime in a manufacturing line, a sales team’s average call length, or the conversion rate of a website, presenting trends in a visual format so that analysts can identify opportunities to improve processes and outcomes. 

 

But many of the most important factors that determine your business’s success are completely outside your control—things like consumer confidence, weather, and the political environment, particularly at the local level.

 

Local politics has a huge influence on almost every business sector. Local governments set laws concerning tax rates, fees, parking, wages, single-use plastic, animal welfare, signage, disposal of waste, building safety—the list goes on and on. 

 

And yet, so many businesses operate in complete darkness about the local policy environment. They might skim the local newspapers, but they only get involved if an ordinance that could harm their business is on the agenda for a vote at the city council. And at that point, it’s often too late to influence the outcome. 

 

Businesses that build a process for staying on top of local policy changes position themselves to seize more opportunities and prevent changes to local laws that could disrupt their operations. 

 

We call that process gathering civic intelligence. 

 

Civic intelligence refers to actionable insights about the way local politics is shaping the business environment. 

 

What does civic intelligence software do? 

 

Local governments function best when stakeholders are actively engaged in the legislative process. But keeping track of every proposed ordinance is hard enough to do when you only operate in one locality. As soon as your business grows large enough to operate in multiple municipalities, the burden of manually keeping up with local council and committee agendas can become overwhelming. 

 

Even with a full-time government affairs person, it’s almost impossible to keep up with the rapidly changing local policy environment without the help of special civic intelligence tools and software.

 

Curate is the leading provider of civic intelligence software. 

 

Curate uses machine learning to monitor and analyze local government agendas and minutes to give customers an edge with clear, simple, and actionable civic intelligence. Curate empowers businesses to understand and engage with local politics at scale. 

 

There are a variety of tools that provide a great compliment to Curate’s functions, especially for organizations that are tracking legislation at the state and national level or looking to manage grassroots advocacy campaigns all over the country, including Quorum, FiscalNote, Salsa Labs, and NationBuilder.

 

Why is civic intelligence important? 

 

Civic intelligence can help you beat your competition when new business opportunities arise. It can help businesses plan ahead for changes in regulatory environments so they can pivot their business model without experiencing downtime. When municipalities propose changes to local ordinances that would cause your business’s operational costs to rise or that could completely disrupt your business model, civic intelligence helps you weigh in on the topic at the right time to influence the outcome of the decision. 


What are some civic intelligence examples? 

 

Civic intelligence comes in a variety of forms. City council meeting minutes are often full of comments and discussions about hot-button issues that indicate upcoming policy changes or business opportunities. Some examples:

 

  • The first mention in a council meeting that an elected official wants to pass a ban on single-use plastic.
  • A discussion in a committee meeting about increasing limitations on stormwater runoff from new residential construction.
  • An agenda item for a vote on the local rules around short-term rentals.
  • A comment from a member of the public about the rapid growth of the population in a particular neighborhood, which could lead to a need for larger schools in the next five years.
  • A mention in a discussion about how neighboring cities are finding success in attracting businesses with a tax incentive program.

What can companies do with civic intelligence? 

 

When you find a juicy bit of intel in a local government agenda or minutes from a recent meeting, it’s time to spring into action. At a minimum, you might register to speak at the next meeting where the issue will be discussed. But to be even more proactive, you might need to set up a meeting with your local representative to share your opinion on a proposed ordinance. You might need to activate your professional network and give them the background information so that they can also contact their elected officials. If you have a government affairs team, they might launch a full-scale grassroots campaign to bring awareness of the issue to the public.

 

Some pieces of civic intelligence are signs of future business opportunities. Local government meeting minutes and agendas are full of leads businesses can use to grow.

 

Maybe you’re a construction company, and you notice a discussion about planning for a government facility expansion in the next budget cycle. Get ready to prepare a bid. 

 

Maybe you’re a clean energy consultant and you find a discussion about how a city wants to lower its carbon footprint within the next five years. Maybe you’re a restaurant supplier and you see a liquor license application for a new restaurant. These are all opportunities to make new connections that could lead to new accounts or projects for your business.

 

How does civic intelligence help businesses get ahead? 

 

Getting an early warning about upcoming policy change gives you time to weigh in on the change and potentially influence the outcome of a vote. But it also gives you time to prepare your business for the changing business environment. Whether you find exciting opportunities or worrisome policy trends, building a civic intelligence program will make sure your business is positioned to make the best of whatever comes. 


Ready to find out how civic intelligence software could help you grow your business and protect your business model? Schedule a discovery call to learn more about Curate’s local policy tracking tools.

July 15, 2020

Roll Call: Danielle Powell, Director Of Customer Success

image-2

 

Curate’s employees are some of the most dedicated professionals you’ll ever meet and as an ever growing company it’s exciting to introduce amazing new people joining the team. A resident of Madison, WI Dainelle earned her bachelor's degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison and comes to us most recently from Overture Center for the Arts where she optimized processes and the entire customer experience. 

 

Questions: 

 

What is your role on the team?  

My role at Curate is Director of Customer Success. I will be looking holistically at the customer experience as they use our website. I hope to focus on best practices for using Curate through customer education and quality assurance. 

 

At what point will a customer meet you?

During the onboarding process I collaborate with customers to ensure Curate is setup correctly for their organization. During this time I also provide training and tips as they start to use the website.  I want to help customers to fully utilize Curate’s features so they get the most out of their subscription.  Lastly, I’m here to assist  if there are any issues, questions, or suggestions for new website features.

 

What unique skills do you bring to the team?

I come from a background of building processes and teams. In many ways, building teams and helping customers are similar. It's all about setting the person up for success (team member or customer) by giving them the tools and helping them to achieve their goals. As Curate grows, my focus on process improvement will also help us scale Customer Success, and continue to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction. 

 

What excites you about joining the Curate team? 

I’m excited to join such a vibrant and innovative team. There are so many skills sets represented on this team-I know I am sure to learn and grow from the experience on a daily basis. 

 

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I’m currently learning American Sign Language so I can communicate more effectively with my Mother In-Law, who is deaf. 

 

What is the craziest adventure you’ve ever been on?

In 2019 my husband and I decided to get married in Mexico. We were looking for something small and relaxed. Little did we know we would have 65 friends and family decide to come with us! Two months prior to our wedding we found out the hotel we had chosen had an outbreak of illness and the outcome was not looking promising. 

After a few VERY stressful days the entire group was moved to a new hotel and the rest was history! We got married on Las Caletas private island. Our guests were transported to the island on a private catamaran and they were even able to see whales along the way. It was everything we could have dreamed of and more.

July 15, 2020

COVID-19 Weekly Snapshot Powered by Curate

COVID Snapshot email header (1)

By Curate Team

 

Curate COVID-19 Municipality Updates



Curate’s commitment is to keep you informed on the important discussions happening across the country. Many communities are discussing important legislation and we thank you for staying vigilant. The database is updated regularly, with each state updated once per week. 

 

This week we took a look at conversations relating to face covering requirements across the nation. We have compiled some heat-maps of where these conversations are taking place, you can take a look below. These heat-maps are from the last four weeks.

 

Face Coverings 14-20

Face Coverings 21-27 june

Face Coverings 28-4

Face Coverings 5-11 jul

 

As shown on the heat-maps, the rate at which these conversations were happening in the middle of June was higher than the rate at which we were having these conversations in this past week. 

Originally, as local governments began discussing the pandemic there was an uptick in the number of conversations at the local municipal level to require its residents to wear masks. 

Unfortunately, as the country re-opened in these last couple of weeks, we have seen the rate of these conversations diminishing, consequently, we have seen the rate of coronavirus infections rise across the nation. 

Below you will find the 7 day average graph of coronavirus cases across the country¹. We can tell from the graph below that there has been a massive increase in coronavirus infections in these last couple of weeks - and the lack of discussions around face coverings is troubling. 

 

Screen Shot 2020-07-13 at 12.40.43 PM

 

What you might find interesting from this data, is that we are seeing a decline in the rate of face covering conversations, this might indicate that local municipalities are trying to get back to "normal" and re-open their economies sooner rather than later. As well as relaxing the previous mandatory policies for face coverings. 

This data also goes hand in hand with the map² below. We have seen coronavirus infections dramatically increasing in these last couple of weeks.

 

Screen Shot 2020-07-13 at 12.41.48 PM

The map above, illustrates the current COVID-19 situation across the country³, as of July 14, 2020.

 

At Curate it is our priority to be sharing with the community the effects COVID-19 is having across the country in local municipalities. We hope that you found this snapshot helpful to determine what is being discussed across the nation this week. 

If we can be helpful to you during this time, please reach out to us at hello@curatesolutions.com.

 

1,2,3: Graphs and images are courtesy of The New York Times Coronavirus Tracker.

Want to know when we post? Subscribe here!