For the State of Mississippi’s Department of Public Safety (DPS), the COVID-19 pandemic hit in two waves.
First came the rapid switch to digital government services due to office closures, which brought with it challenges for business continuity and citizen experience. Then came the safe, organized reopening of offices for the more than 2 million residents of driving age in Mississippi.
Faced with numerous challenges in an unprecedented situation, the DPS turned to the state’s 11-year digital government services partner, NIC Mississippi.
NIC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tyler Technologies, Inc., has provided more than 130 digital solutions for government during the pandemic – from statewide, cloud-based solutions to payment processing to TourHealth® COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution. In addition, the company developed TeleGov®, an online scheduling tool designed to help government reopen safely.
In September 2020, the DPS became the first government agency to implement TeleGov as part of its “Skip the Line” program, and the solution was launched less than 90 days from conception.
Prior to the program’s launch, walk-ins to the DPS were handled using an in-person queuing system and often resulted in crowded waiting rooms and long wait times for citizens, inherently forming unsafe conditions during a pandemic.
“It just didn’t work right for the people of Mississippi. It was frustrating, confusing, and slow,” said Gov. Tate Reeves. Our new efforts “help Mississippians to skip the line and get in and out quickly. It treats the people of Mississippi the way they deserve to be treated – with respect for your time and wise use of your tax dollars.”
The cornerstone of the Skip the Line program, TeleGov allows citizens to schedule in-person, phone, or virtual appointments. Built specifically for government using Microsoft technologies and hosted in Azure, TeleGov also provides agencies with a way to notify constituents through automated text and email reminders and electronically collect required information, forms, and payments ahead of in-person visits. The service can be deployed rapidly and is backed by strong citizen support, secure configuration for every agency, turnkey reporting tools, training, and local NIC customer service.
In addition, Mississippi’s award-winning chatbot, Missi, facilitates over 30 iterations supporting the DPS’ Skip the Line program, providing citizens direct access to appointments, live camera feeds, and address change services. Citizens can tell Missi “I need to make an appointment” or simply mention “appointment” or “cameras,” and they will be directed to the respective Skip the Line service. Further, Missi supports feedback on responses, learns from citizen feedback, and edits responses to enhance customer service.
“COVID-19 has shed light on the growing expectation by the public that a visit to a government office shouldn’t be necessary,” said Dana Wilson, NIC Mississippi general manager. “TeleGov and Mississippi’s ‘Skip the Line’ program have made that a reality, assisting when it is necessary and when it’s not for superior citizen experience.”
Since the solution’s launch, more than 185,000 appointments across 35 locations and 16 unique appointment types have been scheduled using the TeleGov platform. Additionally, the appointment scheduling service has received more than 3 million page views with more than 76% of people using a mobile device and 70% opting for text notifications.
“This program has really revolutionized the citizen experience in Mississippi, a state already consistently at the forefront of digital government innovation and citizen satisfaction,” Wilson said. “NIC Mississippi is proud to have played a part in making the Skip the Line program possible, and we look forward to continuing to enhance the State of Mississippi’s citizen to government interactions.”
Including Mississippi, TeleGov is used across a variety of agencies in eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, New Jersey, Nevada and Wisconsin. Currently, agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Revenue, Labor Cabinet, and Department of Public Safety are using the appointment scheduling tool for motor vehicle, property tax rebates, county clerk, and COVID-19 vaccine appointments. Use cases include appointment scheduling for motor vehicle, property tax rebates, county clerk, and, most recently, COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
TeleGov was designed to support every state, city, county, and municipality, and is directly aligned with government efforts to reopen safely and continue serving populations. To learn more about TeleGov, visit nic.egov.com/telegov.
In addition to TeleGov, Mississippi’s Skip the Line program features several other key components developed and/or hosted by NIC Mississippi.
Skip the Line Cameras
Live camera feeds are available at each of the nine major driver license offices across Mississippi. Citizens planning to visit a location can view real-time feeds of station lines and modify their plans by visiting a neighboring station that may have a lower volume of visitors.
Nearly 26,000 individuals have viewed the live cams since their launch in August 2020. Of that number, 50% have viewed the live feeds on-the-go from a mobile device.
With transparency of real-time location feeds, coupled with online appointment scheduling capabilities, citizens are now more empowered than ever to plan government interaction with the least amount of disruption to their day-to-day lives.
Online Address Changes
One of the most widely completed in-person transactions for the DPS were address changes on licenses and ID cards, and the in-person requirement to complete the transaction significantly impacted office foot traffic.
Using TeleGov, address changes can now be completed from any computer, tablet, or mobile phone. By utilizing address verification services, a customer’s address can be instantly verified and updated prior to license fulfillment.
More than 72,000 addresses have been changed online since the feature was made available to the public, a significant reduction in annual foot traffic.
Firearm renewal office visits are traditionally lengthy. Through the Skip the Line program and TeleGov, the DPS was able to streamline the renewal process, eliminating the in-person visit requirement. The process now utilizes fingerprints on file which were submitted with the initial concealed carry permit purchase, and applications are now available online for quick access.
Significant Fee Reduction and Extensions
To aid in the citizen experience, the DPS removed all late fees during the pandemic which also further reduced foot traffic in driver license locations. Additionally, expiration date extensions were provided to all driver license and ID holders to provide relief.
All in all, Mississippi’s Skip the Line program provides a singular voice across multiple citizen channels, all while maintaining the consistent message of reducing customer wait times and delivering enhanced citizen to government experiences. Extensive quality assurance testing was completed during development and in launch preparation to ensure the DPS would be serving citizens in the most efficient way possible.
“The online appointment systems has reduced the lines at our Driver Service Bureaus in Biloxi and Pearl,” said Sean Tindell, public safety commissioner. “Customers are utilizing the other components of the program and have reported shorter wait times. Overall, the program has been highly successful, and we look forward to offering these services to customers throughout the state.”
About Tyler Technologies and NIC
Acquired by Tyler Technologies (NYSE: TYL) on April 21, 2021, NIC is a leader in digital government solutions and payments, partnering with government to deliver user-friendly digital services that make it easier and more efficient to interact with government. NIC and Tyler are united in their mission to empower public sector entities to operate more efficiently and connect more transparently with their constituents and with each other. Tyler has more than 27,000 successful installations across more than 11,000 sites, with clients in all 50 states, Canada, the Caribbean, Australia, and other international locations. Tyler has been named to Government Technology’s GovTech 100 list five times and has been recognized three times on Forbes’ “Most Innovative Growth Companies” list. More information about Tyler Technologies, an S&P 500 company headquartered in Plano, Texas, can be found at tylertech.com.