A Path for Equitable Service
January 25, 2021 by
When all residents have fair access to essential government services, individuals as well as communities can thrive. Unfortunately, barriers continue to exist that limit this access, including reliable transportation, childcare, and available time off from work.
Needing to appear in court in person during business hours, for example, requires that a person have flexible daytime availability and a way to the courthouse and back. To provide in-person public comment at a city council meeting requires evening availability and safe, even free, childcare. Some of these access issues are amplified in today’s pandemic context: in order to navigate vaccine distribution and sign up for an appointment, seniors and others need reliable internet access.
Cities and counties know that successful communities are ones in which all needs are met. And communities in which all voices are heard benefit from smarter policy decisions. Across the country, jurisdictions are innovating new and creative ways to break down barriers, increase equity, and enhance service.
- The Oregon Judicial Department helps self-represented litigants navigate complex court processes and fill out forms correctly on their own with a web-based platform that simplifies documents into plain-language questions.
- Los Angeles Superior Court uses a cloud-based online dispute resolution tool to help co-parents create parenting plans without having to hire a lawyer, find childcare, take time off of work, or travel to a courthouse.
- The City of Chattanooga uses an enterprise cloud solution to maximize its data for better service. Analyzing incoming calls to the fire department, for example, showed that most calls were requests for medical assistance. This insight led to a partnership with a local agency to check on frequent callers, which saved fire department resources while enhancing service. The open data portal supported by the solution also helps the city measure and track equity and transparency efforts, including through a Policing and Racial Equity dashboard.
- The Wisconsin Department of Health Services uses a cloud-hosted case management system for its IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self-Direct) Waiver program serving more than 22,000 seniors and individuals with disabilities. The system provides users with a way to manage their own benefits, directing their care and retaining agency over their health while at home or in another care setting.
The commonality in the above examples is modernization in the cloud. Cloud-based solutions like these and others help state and local governments overcome challenges that make it more difficult to deliver equitable services. Increasing equity and ensuring fair access to essential government services benefits all residents and results in thriving, successful communities.