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How local govs are using their city sites to get the COVID-19 word out

We share our best examples of how our customers are handling crisis communications.

We know that your job as a local government is to provide clear, accurate information to your community to improve health outcomes and allay panic. And since COVID-19 arrived, we've been witnessing some compelling examples of how our customers are meeting the unique needs of this moment. 

Below we’ve shared our best examples of how local govs are communicating about COVID-19 via their city sites. We offer these in the hopes that they’ll provide you with inspiration—take freely, adapt to your needs, and do share in the comments if you've come across other successful examples.  

Get residents to the right information faster 

No one wants a firehose of information sprayed in their direction, particularly in crisis times. As updates have started to pile up, our customers have been asking us how they can organize this information to better direct their residents to the right place. 

One of our suggestions? Landing pages. Lake Macquarie City has led the way by categorizing their information into type (News, Service, Alert) and creating a landing page that allows residents to click through to the type of information they’re after. 

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Similarly, Yarra Ranges Council has created a landing page to group different types of information, with a focus on strong imagery that supports their messaging. 

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Another option is to organize your content using tabs. Wyandotte County has done just that, with a landing page that helps residents sift through information to find what they need. 

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Show who’s open for business 

The City of Alameda has worked fast to provide their residents with the information they need to stay well and fed. Their landing page links to temporary directories built using iframes and Google Sheets—a method appropriate for short lists that are easy to navigate on mobile devices. Alameda’s directories show which essential services and restaurants are still open for business, and they’re updated daily. 

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Baw Baw Shire Council has taken things one step further with a Be Kind To Business campaign aimed at encouraging their community to support local businesses in this tough climate. 

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Use visuals to aid comprehension 

Social distancing. Stopping the spread. COVID-19 has introduced the world to a whole new vocabulary—and in some cases, understanding these concepts is the difference between life and death.  

Banyule City Council has embedded the Australian Government’s series of bite-sized videos to illustrate these concepts to residents visually (with subtitles too, of course).  

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They’ve also used visuals to help convey the status of council services. The ticks, crosses and exclamation marks allow residents to understand at a glance what's still available, what’s been cancelled, and what’s somewhere in between. 

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Bring arts and culture to your community 

Galleries all closed indefinitely? That wasn't a problem for the City of Onkaparinga, who found a way to bring the gallery directly to their residents’ homes. They moved an entire art show online, complete with high-res images and the option to purchase pieces via an online form.  

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Connect residents with the health services they need 

Wyandotte County used an online form to help residents understand whether their symptoms match those of COVID-19—if they do, the health department then contacts that resident directly to provide further support. The Self-Report Your Symptoms tool means residents are able to connect with the services they need without making a phone call to the city. 

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Now it’s your turn... 

Every day at OpenCities we’re astounded by how local govs around the world are rising to the challenge of serving their communities amidst a crisis. We hope you can take inspiration from these few examples and adapt them to meet your needs. 

We’d love to hear about other great things cities are doing right now. Whether it’s a business directory, a service, or something else entirely, we encourage you to share your examples below. 

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