With soaring demand for social services, field-tested technology can help governments scale up

By | 2 minute read | May 19, 2020

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When people need support and are unsure about the future, they want a place to turn to. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, many are looking to governments for help, and those governments are working tirelessly each day to meet their citizen’s needs.

Experience with previous crises helps leaders respond to a new crisis, which is why many governments have relied on trusted partners like the IBM Social Program Management (SPM) team to help deliver critical services to people in vulnerable situations. For over 20 years, US and global agencies have worked with the SPM team to accelerate and scale the delivery of their programs — agencies like the New York City Human Resources Administration, who have expanded access and improved service delivery of the SNAP, Cash Assistance and Fair Fares program.

This crisis brings new challenges and intensifies existing ones. Employees are juggling home-schooling and other new extra duties while also worrying about their loved ones’ health. In a very short time frame, agencies have met the challenge of getting staff working from home, with all the associated work practices and technical obstacles that this change entailed. In parallel, the digital transformation challenge has intensified as legacy benefit systems try to cope with enormous demands. For example, states have seen applications for unemployment assistance increase by tenfold over the course of a week1. Demands for food assistance will also increase over the coming weeks and months. Policies are evolving in line with emergency legislation so systems that aren’t flexible enough to be easily updated to reflect changing program requirements will struggle. To add to the pressure, face-to-face centers are closing for the duration of the emergency.

It is critical to ensure that people are quickly connected with the services and benefits they need. To give agencies a head start, IBM Watson Health is offering our secure, scalable IBM Citizen Engagement on the Cloud free for 90 days and will assist with the initial setup.

IBM Watson Health can help your agency transform rapidly so they can engage effectively with clients. Our user-friendly online and mobile benefits application system has been proven in the field. Since time is of the essence in this crisis, this system can be rapidly deployed on the cloud. Our integrated chatbot can also give citizens the answers they need and direct them to applications.

Watch the webinar segment on Citizen Engagement and Emergency Assistance:

We are here to face the COVID-19 crisis together with you, united in concern for our loved ones and driven by a mission to help your agency connect with and protect the vulnerable in your care both during this crisis and going forward. Once this crisis has passed, agencies must continue their digital transformations to be ready for what the future brings. Your IBM Watson Health team is committed to taking this journey with you.

Learn more about IBM Citizen Engagement

Read the ICD Vendor Profile: Providing AI Solutions to Government to learn more about AI-enabled, citizen-centric solutions

  1. 1 Henderson, Tim. “Coronavirus and the states: unemployment sites jam, evictions pause and more.” GCN. March, 19, 2020. https://gcn.com
  2. Rainey, Rebecca. “Coronavirus layoffs surge across America, overwhelming unemployment offices.” Politico. March 17, 2020. politico.com/