U.S. Digital Response Weekly Dispatch (June 5)

State and local government teams are facing unprecedented pressure to make decisions, operate effectively, and plan for the future in the midst of continued uncertainty. That’s why U.S. Digital Response publishes Weekly Dispatch, an update on effective resources, a forecast on what’s next, and an overview of how USDR volunteers are working with governments. Subscribe to receive these weekly updates in your inbox.

At A Glance

Project Spotlight

Recently completed projects that other state and local governments may benefit from by replicating or remixing.

Facilitating Applications for Funds to Feed Children

The online application for P-EBT was designed by Code for America staff Rachel Edelman and Jazmyn Latimer, with illustrations by Orlie Kapitulnik.

On May 22, the State of California launched a Pandemic-EBT enrollment website, enabling families with children who qualify for free and reduced-price meals at school to sign up for grocery funds while schools are closed. Within one day, more than 430,000 student applications were submitted, and within a week, the site enrolled 1.3 million kids across the state. Code for America worked with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to develop this accessible, online P-EBT application in near record time.

U.S. Digital Response is partnering with Code for America to provide free technical assistance that enables other states to deliver P-EBT to their own residents. Together, we are offering generalized troubleshooting and consulting with states encountering technical barriers to the implementation of P-EBT. We can organize a small team to provide hands-on assistance solving technical challenges, such as data engineering support to improve the data matching and data sharing processes. We can also advise on messaging and notification strategies for outreach to free and reduced-price eligible student households if their phone numbers or email addresses are available. Agencies interested in getting free help in implementing P-EBT can contact Code for America senior program manager Eleanor Davis and USDR volunteer Sara Soka to begin figuring out the right solution for their state.

Providing Free City-Wide COVID-19 Testing

Last week we talked about the need for adequate access to COVID-19 testing in order to safely and responsibly reopen society. On Thursday, June 4, the City of Seattle announced a partnership with the University of Washington to launch two free citywide testing sites for residents in Seattle. The new sites are expected to increase capacity by more than 1,600 tests per day.

The citywide testing program was quickly developed in a matter of weeks once difficult to secure testing kits were available. Operations, from leasing to staffing, including added technology enabling the scaling to 1,600 patients per day, were made possible through a partnership with U.S. Digital Response and Solv Health. U.S. Digital Response surveyed tools and landed on Solv Health, a health appointment booking company, which dedicated engineering time to adapt their easy-to-use booking tool to meet the needs of the Seattle’s testing sites. The platform was created and ready to launch within two weeks.

USDR Outlook

Here are a few topics USDR teams are investigating in preparation for potential requests:

  • Acknowledging This Moment and Supporting Our Communities: All of us at USDR mourn the death of George Floyd, along with the recent deaths of Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and unfortunately so many others. This horrific violence is a disturbing reminder of the deep systemic issues of racism that remain in our country. As all of this happens against a backdrop of a global pandemic, societal disparities are made glaringly clear in everything from our education system, housing, access to benefits, and basic food security for people in this time of need. USDR is here to stand with and support the communities personally impacted by this continued violence and inequity. We will work to fight these systemic injustices by building a community that’s aware of these issues while actively working to solve them, and helping to create a government that is for and by the people.
  • Multistep Approaches and Needs for Reopening: Many cities and counties are slowly reopening (last week and this week) and are challenged to communicate guidelines to small businesses, to get contact tracing teams hired and prepped, and to prepare for surge capacity in hospitals if there is another spike. USDR is currently working on projects that assist with translation infrastructure, data integration, and contact tracing insights in an effort to ease the process of reopening for governments. Governments are also continuing to explore ways to digitize their workflows and move services online. USDR is working to develop a digital workflows playbook to serve as a resource for governments.

Request assistance and our Government Partnerships team will be in touch within 24 hours. Subscribe to receive these weekly updates in your inbox. You can also follow us on Medium and Twitter.

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U.S. Digital Response

U.S. Digital Response

Connecting governments and nonprofits with pro bono technologists and assistance to quickly respond to the critical needs of the public.