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Digital Experience Award for Google My Business Project

Citizens expect to be able to search with Google and find the correct phone number and address for state government offices in their area. Sometimes the information reported by Google was incorrect.  Staff in State departments were not familiar with how to claim and manage their office profile in Google My Business.  Citizens were frustrated calling incorrect phone numbers and having to hunt for the correct local office of a State agency. The Office of the Chief Information Officer implemented an enterprise effort to claim and update profiles and train department staff to manage their profiles.  This project was submitted to the Center for Digital Government in May of 2018  and the State was notified in September of 2018 this project was awarded a Digital Experience Award the State Government Experience category.

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*** Since the May 1st submission of the award nomination the State has gone on to claim additional locations bringing the managed Google profiles to over 400.  This submission has been updated to include August 2018 Insights about the use of Google My Business.

On April 26, 2018 the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) completed verification of state government locations in Google My Business (GMB) to help citizens more easily ask questions and get answers, find accurate phone numbers, website links, business hours, and directions to government offices without having to find the right website or website location for the information. OCIO saved an estimated 120 hours staff time completing the verification through the GMB bulk verification process successfully verifying 200 state government office locations.

Citizens are moving past searching through government websites to find information, they rely on social media and they rely on Google.  We all appreciate the ease of finding business hours for the store down the street with our Google searches. We expect that information to be available for government as well.  




Citizens searched Google for Iowa government agencies



Citizens called state agencies using the Google My Business phone link



Citizens navigated to Google Map directions



Citizens navigated to agency websites



GMB allows citizens to submit questions, but may feel alienated from government if they don’t get a response.  Worse still is when questions are answered incorrectly by another citizen, not the agency. As we train agencies on the use of GMB we are cleaning up 100’s of unanswered or incorrectly questions like “How would I begin organizing monthly Certified Pharmacy tech. meetings that would also provide C.E.”   Iowa agencies were not aware they were being asked questions. Not owning GMB accounts is a large risk for government.

We believe Iowa is the first State to initiate a bulk verification for all State government offices and train agencies on the use of Google My Business.

OCIO worked across the enterprise to identify and train an owner in each agency to manage GMB, answer questions and respond to reviews.  We have started benchmarking citizen experiences through GMB Insights. Agencies are busy answering questions and ensuring contact information is correct. We are serving citizens where they live - in Google.

There is no other inexpensive/cost-effective initiative that a State can take to engage citizens so dramatically and so quickly!

Three top channels/areas

Website address/URL

Average # of users per month

# of services that can be completed via the channel

OCIO Google My Business Profile

552 searches in last month:13 went to the website, 3 called our office, and 60 went to maps.

6 online services listed in the https://directory.iowa.gov

Human Services Central Office Google My Business Profile

14,000 searches in the last month: 112 went to the website, 499 called the office, and 85 went to directions.

10 online services listed in https://directory.iowa.gov

Iowa State Penitentiary Google My Business Profile

4,948 searches in the last month: 732 went to the website, 191 called the office, and 608 went to directions.

6 online services listed for Department of Corrections in https://directory.iowa.gov

Implementation timeframe

The bulk verification by Google My Business was completed April 26th after more than two months effort updating location information, finding building directories, and getting photos of buildings.   The process to stay current and identify other offices to include in our profiles will be an ongoing effort. Quarterly training and analytics reviews will held with the agencies. An annual audit is planned to confirm information remains accurate

Audience size for the channel

We are working on aggregating the audience size for the 200 government office locations by evaluating GMB Insight information.  Because some location profiles were newly generated traffic information isn’t complete. Searches were conducted 77,000 times in the last month for the Department of Corrections locations resulting in almost 3,000 phone calls. The Department of Human Services locations were searched 189,000 times with 9,193 phone calls.  Having access to this information across the enterprise will be helpful to evaluate service plan improvements specifically where we can leverage the chatbot and live chat environment.

Citizen Feedback Methods

With GMB  citizen feedback is provided through reviews on Google Maps and Google My Business.  We are helping agencies track reviews and train them how to respond to negative reviews which can be requests for help or opportunities for process improvement.  Feedback to citizens is to be provided directly through GMB to the review.


How we use citizen feedback

Our year long website survey has been used to support the redesign of our website with new site to be launched early summer providing a summary of feedback and the improvements we have made.
Since we have just started monitoring our office locations we don’t know yet what the impact will be from making questions and reviews from GMB available to department management.  Early information from GMB Insights has been very positively received by agency management.

Innovations used in the experience channel(s)

Harvesting citizen questions from Google My Business to inform and include in the Iowa.gov portal and our upcoming voice implementation with Google Home and Amazon Alexa is part of our content strategy to provide omni-channel access to information.  

Everything old is new again and one of our innovations has been to get back to basics to improve signage for office locations.  As part of the verification process with GMB we were asked to confirm office locations by providing a photo of the building signage.  This effort uncovered offices with poor signage or directory information. Building signage improvement requests have been directed to the Department of Administrative Services to improve access for citizens.

The commitment to improving citizen experience in the native environment of GMB is strong.  The project has positive agency enthusiasm for owning the accounts and getting good information to citizens.   We are scheduled to meet with the Iowa State Association of Counties to present the process the State went through for verification and help county government get their offices claimed and staff trained to use Google My Business.  




Printed from the Office of the Chief Information Officer website on May 29, 2023 at 4:21am.