October 14, 2020

Choosing the Best Municipal Government Political Monitoring Software for 2020

By Taralinda Willis

double exposure of businessman or salesman handing over a contract on wooden desk

 

Keeping track of issues and ordinances as they make their way from idea to law at the municipal government level can be a nightmare without the right tools. 

 

With municipal governments serving populations from a few thousand to millions, there’s a huge range of levels of sophistication between municipal governments. Most government affairs professionals deal with multiple cities and counties, so staying organized requires the help of political monitoring software.

 

The field of government relations or political monitoring software is relatively new, with most products popping up in the last decade. Most of the large players in the field started at the federal and state level, and have then expanded to cover municipalities, but are still best known for their capabilities at the state and federal level. 

 

Curate was created precisely because of this void in local tracking. With thousands more cities and counties in the country than states, we saw a dire need to make the life of a local lobbyist easier. 

 

But we recognize that many issues that start at the local level bubble up to become state or federal legislation. Many of our customers benefit from using Curate in tandem with one of the state and federal tracking services, so we’ve put together a breakdown of how Curate compares to the top three political monitoring services that also provide local tracking. 

 

FiscalNote

 

Overview

Founded in 2013, FiscalNote was designed to help government affairs professionals keep track of legislation as it moves through state and federal government. The well-funded startup now has a team of more than 400 and uses a combination of manpower and artificial intelligence to provide data to its clients around the world. It is on track to consolidate a good chunk of the government analytics industry through acquisition. 

 

Approach to data collection

FiscalNote collects data with proprietary technology that crawls the web to find documents put out by hundreds of government websites around the country that relate to pending legislation, according to an Inc.com profile from 2016. 

 

Known for

FiscalNote is known for its ability to make predictions about which legislation is likely to pass in Congress and statehouses around the country. 

 

Local issue tracking

When it comes to local tracking, which FiscalNote added in 2017, the service allows customers to track local laws, resolutions, speeches, hearings, and more for any city or county with a population over 50,000, according to a company blog post in 2020. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, only about 750 cities met this standard, leaving out almost 19,000 incorporated cities, towns and villages in the U.S. 

 

Alert frequency

The issue-tracking services in FiscalNote allow users to get real-time alerts about the issues they care most about, or they can choose to get batches of alerts on their preferred schedule.   

 

Mobile app?

FiscalNote has an app for Android and iOS.

 

Cost

In 2016, Inc. reported that pricing started at $10,000 a year for a nonprofit, and ranged up to more than $200,000 for a large private or public company.

 

Quorum 

 

Overview

Quorum is a massive software platform with a wide range of features for government advocacy work that was founded in 2014. The self-funded company provides real-time alerts about policy developments at the state and federal level by tracking legislation, social media, and dialogue across Congress and all 50 states, as well as a variety of automation tools to help teams collaborate on their lobbying efforts. 

 

Approach to data collection

Quorum uses web-scraping technology to automatically scan political websites, social media accounts for politicians and government agencies, and minutes and agendas from government meetings to help lobbyists know what issues are currently on the table at any level of government. 

 

Known for

Possibly the most exciting feature Quorum offers is the ability to instantaneously respond to issues that are buzzing. When an alert comes in, customers can immediately address the issue by sending out an email or tweet from inside the platform to hundreds or thousands of elected officials and/or federal employees who have some connection to the issue.

 

Local issue tracking

Customers can track agendas and minutes for council, committee, and board meetings across the top 200 largest cities and 200 largest counties by population in the country. Quorum’s software also checks elected officials’ social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram to notify customers when officials mention their keywords.

 

Alert frequency

Real-time alerts are available when issues get added to agendas. 

 

Mobile app?

Quorum has an app for Android and iOS.

 

Cost

In 2015, HuffPost reported that the service cost $4,800 annually, although there is likely to be a wide range in cost depending on coverage area, how many team members need access, and whether you want to access the full suite of services.

 

MultiState

 

Overview

Moving away from the AI-powered lobbying realm, MultiState has been helping clients track and influence policy at the municipal, state, and federal level since 1984. MultiState built a network of state and local lobbyists across the country, and they leverage this team of experts to help clients stay abreast of legislative issues and policy change. 

 

Approach to data collection

At the state and local level, MultiState assigns a dedicated policy expert to each client, who serves as an extension of the client’s team. The expert reads bills and regulations and files them into a customizable online tracking platform for the client. 

 

Known for

MultiState is known for its done-for-you approach to lobbying. One of its coolest features is its automated lobbying compliance reporting for every state.

 

Local issue tracking

MultiState’s experts monitor more than 4,300 local jurisdictions—typically covering cities and counties with populations over 20,000. When the expert identifies a proposed ordinance or local action that matters to a client, they add it to the client portal.

 

Alert frequency

Alerts arrive as soon as the expert identifies them and adds them to the client portal. 

 

Mobile app?

MultiState does not have an app.

 

Cost

MultiState does not provide pricing information online, but it is likely on the higher end of the policy tracking services since it relies on human researchers instead of artificial intelligence. 

 

Curate

 

Overview

Curate was founded in 2016 by a former construction project manager and a computer scientist to help general contractors find out about construction projects the minute they become public in a city meeting agenda or report. 

 

The venture-backed startup has since expanded to provide AI-powered project and issue tracking in towns, cities and counties all over the country. 

 

Approach to data collection

Curate’s software constantly visits government websites to download the agendas and minutes of councils, committees, task forces, and boards. If the group publishes agendas online, Curate tracks it. Then, using proprietary machine learning models, Curate sifts through the millions of documents it downloads to identify the relevant mentions of customers’ chosen topics.

 

Known for

Curate is best known for local tracking. It’s the only platform that was designed for local first, and its highly customizable searches help clients find out about construction projects, fee changes, regulation updates, and proposed ordinances that pose a threat to their business or provide an opportunity.

 

Local issue tracking

Curate has the most comprehensive local database of the four services in this analysis, covering more than 11,000 municipalities and counties across the country. In most states, this includes every city down to 2,000 residents, and in some more rural states, Curate even tracks cities with only 1,000 residents. 

 

Alert frequency

Curate customers can choose the report schedule that works for them. Most customers choose weekly because that keeps them up-to-date on city meetings, but customers can get reports as frequently as daily.

 

Mobile App?

Curate does not have an app, but the website is built mobile-first so the site is accessible regardless of the screen size.

 

Cost

Curate’s services range from $3,000 per year for small nonprofit organizations to $80,000 for enterprise clients covering huge geographic areas. 


Ready to be in the know about local policy changes? Schedule a discovery call to learn more about Curate’s local policy tracking tools.

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