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There are a number of reasons we chose digital forms to pilot a microservice approach. Most prominently, forms are critical step towards digitizing city services: They are the interface by which residents can locate the specific services that pertain to them and complete service transactions — including information requests, applications, payments, and registrations —online. They serve as the face of the city as they guide users through these processes, and it’s essential that they do so with efficacy, efficiency, and empathy.

Oftentimes, forms are considered digitized once they are uploaded to Austintexas.gov and thus available online. Yet these still impose considerable barriers: Residents must download a PDF, fill it out, email it as an attachment, and wait for a response. This process is inaccessible for users without the sufficient computer skills or PDF software — not to mention those who don’t have a personal computer, or are trying to access services from a mobile device.