From online banking to on-demand transportation, citizens enjoy technology-driven conveniences in many aspect of their lives. New types of mobile, social and intelligent technologies are changing the way people interact with companies and brands, and they expect similar easy-to-use, transparent and frictionless experiences when working with local and federal government agencies. This is creating an enormous opportunity for agencies to modernize to meet the needs of today’s citizens, while returning value to taxpayers.

We wanted to better understand how citizens use technology to connect government agencies via technology. So we partnered with Harris Poll to survey more than 2,000 adults, ages 18 and older, in the United States to find out what they think. The findings in our “2017 Connected Citizen Report” showed that many Americans are either unaware of digital offerings or believe their local governments lack the ability to provide services through digital channels. In addition, more than two-thirds of Americans say they have better overall experiences when dealing with private enterprises compared to federal agencies.

Here were the high-level findings:

  • Americans report their local governments don’t provide citizen services through digital channels.

    • For general city services, just 38% of Americans said they can pay property taxes, 37% said they can pay fines for parking and driving tickets, and 21% said they can apply for or submit a home construction or business permit through modern digital channels, such as via a smartphone app, email, website or social network.

    • Americans cited similar results when it came to civic engagement. While 42% reported they can register to vote through digital channels, only one quarter (25%) said they can follow city budgeting and spending processes. And 19% said they can remotely participate in local town hall events with modern technologies.

    • When it comes to transportation, 49% said they can get road closure info due to bad weather with modern technologies. However, for public transportation needs, only 35% said they can get delay information through modern means.

  • Americans overall are open to investing in technologies to better engage with their governments, while younger Americans are more interested in ride-sharing capabilities.  

    • More than half of Americans (55%) would be open to their taxpayer money going to research forward-looking technologies for their cities, assuming it is for services they would find helpful.

    • That said, public support fell when presented with actual proposals. For instance, only 39% said they want their local governments to invest tax dollars in technology that would allow them to use sensors in vehicles to monitor traffic patterns, helping route traffic more efficiently through gridlock or construction. And less than one third (30%) were interested in technologies that provide parking availability, such as the location of open city parking spots, via a mobile app.

    • Generation gaps emerged when Americans were asked about modern transportation options, such as ride-sharing. Fifty-six percent of millennials (ages 18-34) and 54% of GenXers (aged 35-54) stated that if costs were the same, they would prefer to use a ride-sharing company vs. public transportation to get to work, while only 35% of baby boomers (aged 55+) felt the same way.

  • Americans have better experiences with the private sector, but still report positive interactions with federal agencies.

    • More than two-thirds (68%) of Americans say that, in general, they have better overall experiences when dealing with private companies compared to federal government agencies, mainly because private companies resolve customer service issues more quickly (62%), care more about people as customers (52%) and provide easier ways to communicate with the company (45%).

    • That said, a majority of Americans report having generally excellent or good experiences when dealing with federal agencies in the last 12 months. This includes those who have interacted with Veterans Affairs (72%), applying for food stamps or other food-related assistant programs (64%), working with the Internal Revenue Service (60%) and interacting with federal healthcare agencies (58%).

Technology has the power to connect citizens in smarter and more intelligent ways than ever before, which creates amazing opportunities for government agencies to invest in social, mobile, cloud and AI technologies to improve their experiences. Agencies that provide their citizens with seamless and transparent ways to communicate will foster stronger engagement, save taxpayer dollars and be a civic leader for governments around the country and world to follow. Be sure to download the full report here.


This survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Salesforce, Dec. 9-13, 2016, among 2,057 adults, ages 18 and older, in the United States. This online survey is not based on a probability sample, and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Joel Steinfeld at