Governing: Earlier this year, Norton Bonaparte predicted a permanent end to a foundational element of how government leaders and employees engage with constituents. “I talked to a newspaper reporter in March, and I said ‘I don’t think I’ll ever shake your hand again,’” says Bonaparte, city manager of Sanford, Fla. “People talk about going back to normal, but what we’ve experienced will forever change how we’re doing things.”
The term “contactless” has become increasingly popular in recent months, thanks to the resilience of COVID-19. Demand for digital and no-touch services has grown by 20 percent in the U.S., according to the consulting firm McKinsey, and governments have responded, ramping up online portals and services, rolling out contactless transit systems, enabling remote visits by social workers, and enlisting chatbots to support surging demand in call centers. But governments’ rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic goes far beyond digital payment and delivery of services.
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