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A Small Village Leads the Way on Resident Engagement

Hillside partners with Citibot to explore groundbreaking resident engagement technologies

The Challenge

The Village of Hillside, IL needed better ways to communicate with it's residents and answer their questions.


March 8, 2024

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The Project

CivStart worked through a Challenge-based process to pilot a groundbreaking resident-engagement technology from startup, Citibot.

Key Takeaways

A small suburb west of Chicago, the Village of Hillside is home to more than 8,000 residents.

Since launching in 2022, the Village of Hillside has:

  • Served 5.7% of their residents

  • Sent notifications to residents on Hillside news, events, emergency preparedness and senior information.

  • Experienced an uptick in attendance from Spanish-speaking residents in Village town hall meetings.

Citibot has revolutionized our communication with the citizens of Hillside, enabling effortless interaction between residents and the city. Through Citibot's text alerts, we ensure that residents receive timely updates for emergencies, events, and community news.

Leslie Rios, Village of Hillside’s Community Outreach Coordinator


Citibot's advanced Generative AI fuels efficient government communication in smart text messaging, web chat, and interactive alerts. Communicating in 71 languages, our products ensure seamless and inclusive interactions for elevated operational efficiency and exceptional customer service.

The Project in Detail

The Village of Hillside is a diverse community of blue-collar workers and daily commuters into Chicago. Hillside embarked on a journey to modernize and enhance communication between residents and government. In 2021, the Village enrolled in the Civstart Challenge-based procurement program, in collaboration with the National League of Cities, to address their evolving needs. Hillside:

  • Aimed to forge stronger connections with the expansive Latino community residing in Hillside.

  • Streamline and enhance the efficiency of residents' access to essential city information.

  • Leverage partnership with CivStart to utilize innovative technology tailored for local government.

Civstart's Challenge-based procurement program fosters collaboration between governments and startup companies to address challenges. This initiative offers affordable and innovative solutions with comprehensive support.

"Helping governments be more innovative isn't just about new technology; it's about nurturing the relationship between startups and civic leaders." said Sarah Nicoll, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer for Civstart.

Citibot joined Civstarts startup community after finishing their accelerator program geared to local government in 2020. The accelerator program provided 24 months of customer development, product development, network building, and expert guidance for startups, all in preparation for securing state & local contracts.

After the Village of Hillside completed their challenge-based procurement program, Civstart published a challenge statement to their community of startups. Through Civstart, Citibot and Hillside connected and began to modernize Hillside’s communication with residents.

Citibot's Solution

In 2022, the Village of Hillside adopted Citibot's text chat and text alert products. Following a successful launch, Hillside seamlessly implemented Citibot's web chat product to extend the same functionality to the Village's website. Citibot empowered Hillside to engage effectively with its large Spanish-speaking community by providing text alerts in both English and Spanish.

"Embracing diversity through communication is not just an option; it's essential," Leslie highlighted. The Village is now able to engage with every community due to Citibot’s multilingual capabilities. This isn't just about technology; it's about creating an inclusive environment where every resident feels understood and valued.

Hillside Village offers real-time interaction, open dialogue, and service request submissions using Citibot’s platform. The resulting transparency and enhanced customer service fulfills Citibot's mission to build trust between residents and local governments.

Amid the partnership, the Village implemented a new water bill payment system—a shift that could easily cause confusion and frustration among residents. However, the power of data steps in, turning potential challenges into streamlined solutions!

"Following the trends of questions coming in, we saw a pattern related to the new system—questions about website navigation, broken links, and login issues. Citibot was instrumental in helping us quickly identify and address these concerns, smoothing out the transition for our residents," said Leslie Rios.

Citibot enabled a transformative shift in efficiency and customer service for Hillside Village, featuring instant answers, easy service requests, personalized messages, and real-time alerts. These results showcase the power of innovation in communication technologies and local government.

This partnership was made possible by generous grants from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the National League of Cities’ City Innovation Ecosystems program.


Graduated Government Leaders from CivStart's Innovation Programs


Tech for Gov Newsletter subscribers


Venture Capital raised for startups in our Accelerator


Years of Government Innovation Programs


Startups in CivStart's portfolio


Mentor Network Participants


Attendees at CivStart events


BIPOC + Women Founders


Media Mentions

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