U.S. Digital Response: A Resource for Local Government

Posted on April 23, 2020


As the COVID-19 crisis impacts every aspect of society, cities across the country feel the strain on their existing technology. Teams are spinning up new systems, websites, and tools to help their workforces and neighbors navigate this crisis, with limited resources, staff, and support.

If we can help, we will

U.S. Digital Response is a free, non-partisan service that helps local governments respond to the COVID-19 crisis with direct staffing, expert consultation, and custom-built tools. We embed highly skilled volunteers with local governments to strengthen decision-making and support the delivery of critical services to the public at scale. 

As the impact of COVID-19 expands and the needs of cities evolve, we adapt our solutions to offer the most effective support. We have a database of more than 4,500 qualified, experienced professionals, including close to 700 who are available full-time. Our volunteers have a diverse range of expertise from user research and design, to full-stack engineering, product management, and data science. You can learn more about U.S. Digital Response at www.usdigitalresponse.org.

How we support local government

Build a local COVID-19 website. Many cities are currently building COVID-19 websites to keep citizens informed. It can be a challenge to ensure these websites handle increased traffic, are constantly up-to-date, can be easily updated, and help reduce the burdens on call centers. Since much of COVID-19 health-related information is consistent across the country, and the data architecture is largely the same, we can help governments stabilize existing websites or stand up new ones to ensure the public gets answers quickly. Here is a guide of best practices that we’ve published for government websites related to COVID-19.

Directing PPE where it’s needed most: Cities across the country are in need of real time information about the supply and demand of PPE. USDR volunteers have built and deployed dashboards that equip local decision makers with reliable data and analysis they need to direct PPE resources.

Connecting homebound with food assistance: Many cities want to match volunteers to vulnerable populations for groceries, deliveries, and check-ins. USDR volunteers can help your city add a matching tool to its website, create a back-end for your data, and train your team on how to manage the requests. The City of Concord, CA worked with USDR to create a volunteer-matching system that we have rapidly adapted for two other cities. See it in action. 

Helping city workforce go remote: As cities transition to remote work, the City of San Rafael approached USDR to help digitize forms for services that used to be done in person. Similarly, the City of Napa requested a short-term consultant proficient in VPN networking to make sure remote workers could operate without stressing their systems. Now their teams have added capacity to process the increased requests from their communities. 

“Volunteers from U.S. Digital Response have not only helped bring incredible expertise and extra hands to us in a great time of need, they’ve also brought critical thinking skills and an outside perspective at a time when our team is working long hours and are experiencing burn out. We’re tired and reactionary right now, and they bring a thoughtful approach to this critical work. We don’t want to just react. We want to take this opportunity to make things better.” –Rebecca Woodbury, City of San Rafael

Supporting vulnerable homeless populations: Homeless shelters and the homeless population are particularly vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis. Our volunteers are helping local governments create ways to track cases and provide the right services to the unhoused and institutions currently supporting them.  

How can we help your organization?

While we have a variety of replicable, ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions, we are committed to partnering directly with governments on the specific issues facing your local community. No issue is too big or too small! 

Reach out to us at [email protected] and a member of our team will get back to you to learn more about how we can help. 

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