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Growth Management Tips for Local Governments: Manage Population Growth

By Marisa Pangaro

Cities nationwide, especially smaller municipalities, are starting to experience an unprecedented population growth as more residents are choosing to move out of large, overpopulated cities and into smaller suburban neighborhoods and secondary / tertiary cities. The surge in population within municipalities represents more than just an increase in residents; it is a complex transformation that affects every aspect of governance and community life. 

From infrastructure demands and service provision to urban planning and social cohesion, local governments are or will soon be experiencing the need for the sustainable development of digital and physical infrastructure to support these new residents. While this population growth will require work on the part of the local government to make the necessary adjustments within the municipality, the transformation can be made much easier through the use of government software and improved municipal workflows. 

Commonly, local governments face struggles while populations grow faster than government officials can easily keep up with. Adjusting to a larger population presents challenges regarding infrastructure, municipal service delivery, constituent social cohesion, budgeting, and much more. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how to navigate the challenges of a growing population by learning tips and best practices for managing population growth and integrating GovPilot’s government software solutions into your municipality.

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What Is Growth Management In Local Government?

Growth management refers to the strategic and controlled planning, regulation, and coordination of growth and development within a specific municipality. Local government growth management is linked to population growth and involves programs and practices meant to guide the growth of a community in a sustainable and efficient manner.

Growth management goes hand in hand with population growth as municipalities need to adjust their operations to accommodate a much larger number or residents than they were typically used to. When a population grows rapidly, especially in small municipalities, lots of changes need to be made within government processes to keep life convenient for all constituents and government workers alike. 

To learn more about population growth, check out our guide on Local Government Population Planning

Challenges Governments Face with Growth Management

There are various challenges that local governments face when they experience a population surge that they aren’t prepared for. Read on to learn more about common challenges faced by local governments and how to mitigate them: 

1. Infrastructure Strain

When residents move into your locality at high rates, existing infrastructure was often not designed to support so many residents. Both physical and digital infrastructure systems can get overwhelmed with the higher rates of citizens using them. Digital infrastructure may not be able to support the growing numbers of interactions online if your local government is operating with outdated, antiquated digital processes. 

If your government workers still operate without automated digital processes, likely the growing population will put too much demand on government workers that makes it impossible for them to work efficiently. Governments should invest in government management software and technology to enable their online operations to handle the community’s growing population with automation online for various applications, permits, forms and more. 

Now is the time to invest in expanding and upgrading physical infrastructure systems to meet the rising demand before it is too late, and your locality is stuck playing catch up. Ensure your physical infrastructure is disaster resilient, and inclusive for all citizens with regular inspections and streamlined, virtual permitting. 

Learn more about how to create a strong Local Government IT Strategy with our resource. 

2. Housing Affordability

Affordable housing shortages are common during times of exponential population growth because the housing market becomes more competitive and often housing prices rise quickly. Residents who cannot afford higher rent or to move to a new place often face housing insecurity and displacement. 

It is imperative that local governments plan for this and put in place policies and initiatives to ensure that all residents can find suitable housing that is also affordable. Check out GovPilot’s Housing Department Software to learn everything you need to know about software solutions to prevent housing insecurity to citizens. 

3. Transit Congestion

More residents in your community means more vehicles on the road, resulting in traffic congestion and longer commute times throughout your city. Traffic congestion makes it harder for constituents to get to their jobs, and travel around the city patronizing local businesses. 

Ensure that residents have ample options to travel your city, because public transportation like buses or light rails eliminate the need for so many cars on the road and improve your city’s sustainability

Read on about ensuring transit congestion is not a problem in your municipality with these GovPilot guides: 

4. Economic Disparities

While some residents may benefit from increased population due to increased job opportunities, others may face higher living costs without being able to achieve corresponding income increases quickly enough. For the members of your community with a lower socio-economic status, job hopping to a career with more pay is not always an option, and definitely not easy to achieve. 

Prioritize upward mobility in your locality, and be sure your local government provides resources to residents looking to further their education, make a higher income, and climb the socio-economic ladder. 

Read more about Upward Mobility Planning At The Local Level

5. Environmental Impact

Increased population often leads to drained natural resources and environmental degradation due to the increased number of people contributing to pollution in everyday ways such as driving cars or creating more garbage. Take the time to ensure your community gets ahead of the environmental impact with mitigation strategies to improve  your community’s carbon footprint. 

Learn more about sustainability with our Local Government Sustainability Guide

6. Social Services Demand

The demand for social services in your local government will rise as more residents move in because more people will simply be utilizing your government services. Government services such as healthcare, childcare, and social welfare programs must allocate resources and funding to meet the growing demand. 

Focus on streamlining constituent services and preparing to support more constituents with your municipal service delivery. Utilize government management software to automate processes that tend to slow down municipal service delivery

7. Cultural and Social Diversity

With an influx of new residents populating your city, you are likely to be home to residents of many different backgrounds and cultures. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure equality and promote inclusivity as a model for the community.  Address cultural tensions to make it known that the local government protects and supports all citizens. 

Learn more in our guide to Promoting Equity in Local Government 

8. Emergency Preparedness

Larger populations can pose challenges for emergency preparedness, disaster management, and continuity of government because a municipality's resources for disaster response may not be adequate to accommodate the recently increased population. Dedicate time and resources towards investing in disaster preparedness for your city to ensure your communities resilience. 

Learn more about how to ensure your community is disaster resilient by checking out these resources:

Tips for Managing Population Growth 

Despite the challenges population growth may cause, there are key ways to manage population growth and support all citizens. Here are they key ways: 

1. Organize Comprehensive Planning

City planning needs to be prioritized with updated, streamlined community systems and designs that will account for all residents that now live in your community, old and new. Be sure to update comprehensive land-use plans and utilize GIS Mapping Software to gather critical data that should guide decisions about zoning, infrastructure, transportation, and urban development.

Learn more about Government Strategic Planning with our resource.  

2. Prioritize Infrastructure Investment

With so many new residents in your community, the demand for more infrastructure is evident,  but the need for investment in current infrastructure should not be overlooked. Infrastructure upgrades and expansions must be prioritized to accommodate the growing population. Physical public infrastructure such as transportation vehicles, schools, and healthcare facilities must be funded accordingly with the influx of new residents that will be utilizing those services. 

3. Prioritize Affordable Housing

To prevent the struggles of housing displacement for citizens, local governments must get ahead of the possible housing insecurity that population growth may bring by implementing policies and incentives to encourage the development of affordable housing units. To prevent housing shortages, make housing more accessible to residents of varying income levels by providing low-income and affordable housing throughout the community. 

4. Provide Transportation Solutions

To mitigate any transportation congestion that may develop with more citizens on the roads, develop strategies that expand public transit networks throughout your city. Ensure city planners develop designs for traffic flow and streets that accommodate your growing population. Further, promoting alternative transportation options such as cycling and walking will help your city get closer to becoming a 15-minute city and transform into a more eco-friendly community. 

Learn how to Improve Public Transportation in your city to improve your population management.   

5. Encourage Sustainable Development

It's no secret that more populated cities tend to have a bigger environmental footprint, which makes promoting sustainability and green infrastructure a large responsibility of the local government. Promote sustainable development practices such as green building standards and energy-efficient infrastructure. 

Encourage citizens to participate in conservation efforts that will protect the environment despite the larger population and higher pollution rates that it brings. Learn more about how to make your local government more sustainable and take steps to ensure your community is as green as it can be. 

6. Encourage Economic Diversification 

Making sure that your community can attract a range of industries and businesses to the area will provide job opportunities for new and old residents who are looking for work. Economic diversification aims to shift your economy away from a single income source, instead toward multiple sources of income, all from a growing range of sectors and markets within your city. 

Learn more about how to encourage economic diversification and which government competitive advantages can help you attract more businesses to your city.

How Government Management Software Solutions Can Help Manage Population Growth 

GovPilot’s many government management technology solutions can aid municipalities in accommodating and adjusting to their new influx of residents. Here are a few key software solutions: 

GovPilot’s Cloud-based construction permitting software empowers local governments to review, approve, and track projects from start to finish, online. Construction software streamlines construction projects and inspections to ensure infrastructure projects and improvements run on time and can accommodate your growing population. Don’t attempt to grow and improve physical infrastructure without this software as it keeps your government on task, on schedule, and ensures project completion in far less time.  

Planning and zoning software is designed to track and increase community development in your municipality. Make your Planning and Zoning Board more efficient, responsive, and capable of delivering community and economic development at scale as your community grows; use this government software for issuing online zoning permits, tracking city plans for infrastructure development, and notifying constituents automatically if their permit is approved.

While your community grows, ideally health services in your community grow to scale in order to prepare to help an incoming wave of new residents. GovPilot’s health department software can speed up workflows for facility inspections and support the health of new residents. With this software, digital forms on your government website allow constituents to fill out and submit permit applications or renewals from the comfort of their home or business.

Once submitted, Health Department staff can instantly process the application, conduct the appropriate review, fee calculation, and inspection. Streamlined health department operations mean more constituents can be supported through their local health services and should be prioritized.  

With population growth, housing insecurity is usually a problem that occurs due to the inflated housing costs due to new residents moving in. Combat housing insecurity in your city by recognizing that safe housing is critical to the management of a municipality or county. GovPilot makes property management easy and efficient for Local Governments so you can stay on top of the housing market and work to ensure all residents have adequate and affordable housing.

Your public works department will likely experience a strain when your population surges; get ahead of the demand for public works services by preparing the department now, and arming public works employees with software solutions for their department. Enhance productivity within public works offices, and save costs by digitizing work orders and all aspects of project management.

Public Works software is easy to use and features automated workflows, mobile and desktop device compatibility, and GIS mapping to streamline all facets of Public Works management including vehicle maintenance, asset management, work order management, and more. Don’t let your public works department get backed up when more residents are using their services than ever, instead integrate government software into your municipality to get ahead of the demands of population growth. 

Prioritize Population Growth Management In Your Community

Population growth in your city, especially if it's a smaller municipality, is evident. The need to prepare for the incoming population influx in your community is here; Utilize GovPilot Government Management Software in order to support the continued population growth as residents choose your city as their new home. Government software solutions help to digitize outdated programs, increase convenience for constituents, and improve workflows for government offices to ensure plenty of time and resources are available for citizens.

Book a consultation with GovPilot to learn more!  

Population Growth Management FAQs

  • What is population growth management? 

Population growth management is a term used to describe the process of effectively planning how to sustain and support the current and future population of your city. The objective is to find balance between the number of individuals within your community and the available resources, infrastructure, and environmental capacity to support them. 

  • How can local governments prepare for population growth? 

Investing in GovPilot’s government management software prepares localities for population growth because they harness new tools to streamline municipal services for the new residents, keep up with building and updating infrastructure on time, and ensure government leaders are able to simply communicate with residents online, anytime. 

  • Why is growth management important in a local government? 

By understanding these factors, governments and organizations can devise measures such as family planning initiatives, educational campaigns, healthcare provisions, and economic incentives to influence population growth in a manner that ensures the well-being and sustainable development of the society while preserving natural resources and minimizing strain on the environment.

Tags: Government Efficiency, Constituent Experience, Digital Transformation, GovTech