Stafford Wins First Place Nationally in Government Experience Awards

The Center for Digital Government announced this week that Stafford County won first place in the county category of the seventh annual Government Experience Awards. The award is given to jurisdictions that have elevated tech standards to provide a more intuitive, customer-centric approach to delivering essential residential services. Stafford won for its innovative brand development of “Ask Blu,” a comprehensive digital ecosystem for residents.

“This award is the culmination of years of hard work and collaboration with County departments to enhance our digital service capabilities,” said Information Services Chief Director Andrew Spence. “We created a method to facilitate immediate answers or direct connections between residents and subject matter experts under the umbrella of our Ask Blu platform. I am extremely thankful for my team and am proud to be awarded this recognition within our industry of professionals.”

The Ask Blu project incorporates numerous modules under one brand including direct links to the 311 help system through the AI chatbot; the 311 mobile apps available on iOS and Android; a citizens/officials text system; a customized newsletter disseminated by county representatives with applicable news for residents based on their area; and a self-paced citizen education portal known as the Blu’s Academy that allows residents to watch a variance of videos created by County staff explaining each department’s essential functions. This platform provides several ways for community members to know how and where to access help.

“Again, our Community Engagement team continues to impress. This award only verifies what I have known since day one in coming to Stafford,” said County Administrator Randal Vosburg. “Rest assured, this is only the beginning of their mission to continuously innovate to ensure our residents’ experience is top-notch.”

The complete Ask Blu system is unified under a single mascot, Blu, a heron that adorns the multifaceted yet cohesive website design. Blu was inspired by Crow’s Nest, Stafford’s natural area preserve, known for having one of the largest heron nesting areas on the East Coast. Graphics including Blu and his friends have become a popular way to broadcast messages on social media.

The County continues to enhance and extend Ask Blu to incorporate other technical advancements to improve service delivery to residents. To read more about the Government Experience Awards and to see a full list of winners, please visit https://www.govtech.com/gov-experience/government-experience-awards-2023-enhancing-access-and-efficiency.