How Canada Keeps 37 Million Residents Informed During COVID-19

Panoramic view of Old Quebec City waterfront and Upper Town from Saint-Lawrence River in Quebec, Canada

Image source: Adobe Stock / boonsom.

by Jonathan Benett

posted on 07-28-2020

A few years ago, the Canadian government wanted to modernize the way it communicated with residents, and the website was top of mind. For most, Canada.ca was considered a “digital front door” to the government, where over 37 million residents could access resources and get useful information. It supported critical needs and a variety of services, while also informing the public in areas like Canadian culture. It also needed a revamp.

Canada.ca had a unique set of challenges: Like many government entities, it bore the responsibility of keeping residents engaged and required more than a pretty website layout. Billions of visits were happening around the clock, and the site had to be resilient enough to handle large peaks in traffic, where being unavailable was not an option. At the same time, visitors had incredibly diverse needs when they visited the site, and the messages being delivered had to account for that.

Adobe Experience Cloud had the privilege of collaborating with the Canadian government, providing tools that enabled a resilient website. Content can be easily published and measured, and traffic has doubled since launching in 2015. The consumer demand has had a ripple effect as well, pushing government workers to be more digitally minded when they think about resident engagement. All of this created a culture that was valuable during less chaotic times. In times of change and uncertainty however, it became crucial.

Graphic from Canada.ca.

COVID-19 response

The onset of COVID-19 drove an immediate need for information amongst Canadian residents. While some were seeking details on lockdown restrictions, others (in more dire situations) required economic and healthcare assistance. In all, 50 departments across the Canadian government had to communicate with the public, and it required hundreds of new pages for Canada.ca.

Authors across each department were needing to create and publish content. Adobe Experience Manager provided a central platform for doing so, driving both consistency and speed in getting messages out. It supported a mobile-centric experience as well, which now accounts for 42% of traffic. This has been driven in part by younger consumers who are embracing digital channels. Various initiatives were also rolled out to engage this demographic, from a virtual assistant to having a website that is now 55% faster.

Through Adobe Analytics, the team also has a pulse on pages and topics that are resonating. For decision makers in the government, it has become an important tool to inform how they communicate with residents. Traffic spikes in a new program for instance, pushes teams to dedicate more content resources, while informing the program itself. The quantitative data has become another input (on top of surveys), to form a clearer picture on needs. The results so far have been encouraging: In a recent survey, 80 percent of visitors said they found Canada.ca to be a trustworthy and reliable resource.

According to Michel Laviolette, Director General of Digital Services: “Service Canada is an agency within the Canadian government that looks to provide a single point of access for a wide range of services. Our team had a driving role in the transformation of Canada.ca, which now accounts for more than 70% of the government’s online traffic. While many consider us an IT team, I have always seen us as a service organization that serves the people of our country.”

“In the beginning of this effort, we knew that consumers were way ahead of us when it came to digital,” continued Michel. “As most would suspect, the public sector tends to be slower moving when it comes to adopting technology. The tide is thankfully changing, and tools like Adobe Experience Cloud gives us the reliability and scale we need to manage billions of visits across over 400,000 pages on Canada.ca. It has also given us agility during times like COVID-19, where the need to keep residents informed has been so critical. And the site has been running at 100% availability, which we are really pleased with.”

“As we look ahead, we are continuing to expand our digital services so that we can best serve the needs of Canada,” Michel notes. “With the plumbing in place now, we have been exploring new initiatives beyond content such as a benefits finder tool and the virtual assistant. We are also looking into areas like voice-based search, given our growing mobile audience. Our team wants to ensure that no matter where residents are or what they need, we have a platform to make them feel heard and engaged.”

At Adobe, we believe that everyone deserves respect and equal treatment, and we also stand with the Black community against hate, intolerance and racism. We will continue to support, elevate, and amplify diverse voices through our community of employees, creatives, customers and partners. We believe Adobe has a responsibility to drive change and ensure that every individual feels a sense of belonging and inclusion. We must stand up and speak out against racial inequality and injustice. Read more about the actions we’re taking to make lasting change inside and outside of our company.

We also know many people are still impacted by the current COVID-19 crisis and our thoughts are with you. The entire Adobe team wants to thank you, our customers, and all creators around the world for the work you do to keep us inspired during this difficult time.

Topics: Government, COVID-19, Customer Stories, Insights

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