Productivity without paper: an update on the Paper Census

Productivity without paper: an update on the Paper Census

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In March, Austin Tech Alliance kicked off a 4-week public survey for the Paper Census. This is an exciting collaboration with the City of Austin to identify paper-based city processes and prototype digital solutions in an effort to reduce reliance on paper.  The public insights campaign asked a simple question: “Paper processes are costly and inefficient. How can City of Austin make services (forms, activities, and actions) easier to use?”


It was important for us to obtain wide-ranging community feedback in both digital and non-digital formats. Austinites were encouraged to provide input through an online platform, by texting or leaving a voicemail, or at community events throughout town. Varying perspectives brought in a wide range of responses from City of Austin employees and residents.

What we’ve learned so far:

Residents are open to digital processes:
  • “The less paper the better. Like Google Drive, make it real-time and there always.”
  • “Most of what citizens complete on paper (filling out forms, making requests, signing in) can be done digitally.”
There were broader community-wide asks:
  • “Digital forms by using tablets, handhelds or kiosks to sign in and for waiters and waitresses taking orders at restaurants.”
  • “Reducing mail-in ads (ads to local stores) would be ideal.”
Some answers were out-of-the-box…and some were “interesting:”
  • “Have residents elect to receive text reminders in addition to emails for bills and statements/public notices, with the option of being able to download and/or print copies and payment receipts.”
  • “Required toilet paper usage limits of 6 squares per visit (metered dispensers in City buildings).”
There are traditionalists:
  • “We don’t agree with going paperless. We choose to pay our bills by mail, not online. We conduct any necessary transactions by mail. We believe it to be safer.”
  • “I like paper.”
And some residents aren’t familiar enough with city processes:
  • “I don’t know enough about what’s paper-based to answer.”
  • “I need to know what services the city provides in order to weigh in.”

What happens next?

Using a proprietary technology that integrates artificial intelligence with resident feedback, we’ll aggregate this data to create actionable insights. These insights, linked to groupings of specific feedback, will serve as recommendations, and ATA will turn those recommendations into direction for Paper Census.

Get involved

Help ATA highlight and analyze feedback by visiting and clicking on Insights campaign. Read through the public responses, show your support for comments that resonate with you, and highlight answers that have a common thread.

Stay up to date with Paper Census by signing up to receive our newsletter and following us on Twitter.

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