Community COVID Response

AFI Members are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with their communities in mind.

ARTICLE | May 27, 2020

The Alliance for Innovation reached out to our members about how their organizations were responding to the ongoing pandemic. We are sharing just some of the stories our members offered of effective action and kindness straight from their communities. 

Northglenn, CO Senior Prescription Delivery

In a time where worry and fear seem to permeate everywhere, local governments are stepping up to lend a helping hand. While there are excessive difficulties for all citizens, some of the most impacted people in our communities are senior citizens. Often unable to easily travel and with few senior-care workers available to assist the elderly population, many seniors find themselves stranded.

That is where the City of Northglenn Colorado has taken initiatives to help their elderly residents. Alongside their typical municipal services of refuse collection, snow removal, and basic utilities, the City of Northglenn now offers a prescription delivery services for residents 65+.

With the Northglenn Police Department delivering prescriptions, there is now some relief to the community’s resident that were most in need of a helping hand. But beyond just doing a noble service for the population of Northglenn, there is an added benefit where the Northglenn Police Department is able to foster a deeper relationship with the residents and create a stronger bond. We can be hopeful that the effects of the program will continue to linger long after the world has returned to normal.

Communicating in the middle of a pandemic

One of the most critical aspects of responding to the health pandemic is helpful, informative, and responsive communication between residents and City Hall. However, with fewer people city employees available to answer phones and respond to emails, local governments are looking for innovative technologies and methods to communicate with the public. Below are a couple examples of how local governments are answering the public’s questions.

Knoxville, TN 

In a growing city of 180,000 people, Knoxville was gearing up for the 2020 census and wanted to streamline the process as much as possible. One of the ways they wished to streamline the process was to add a comprehensive chatbot that could answer the public’s questions regarding the census. Knoxville enlisted the technology company Quiq and their chatbot services. But in the face of the rapidly developing health pandemic, Knoxville made the decision to transition the chatbot to answer questions regarding Covid-19. In just two weeks time, the chatbot was repurposed and running without flaw. Despite the success, Knoxville hopes to use the chatbot as a safety net more than anything else as the city feels there is still a critical importance to being able to speak directly with the public.

Mountain View, CA

One significant challenge facing local governments is to be informative and yet not provoke fear in residents. Mountain View, CA seems to have found a perfect balance with their newsletter called, The Briefing. The Briefing presents a simple, yet informative newsletter that is optimized for residents to quickly review the most pertinent information while also allowing for community participation. For instance, there are displays of children’s art and positive stories of life during Covid-19. On top of that, Mountain View adds a section of lighthearted humor and goodwill to keep the newsletter as something uplifting for the community to read and bond over.

Nixwhistle

Another challenge for local governments is ensuring that residents and employees with sensitive information feel that their communication is secure, safe, and anonymous. The private company Nixwhistle offers a technology service built on blockchain that citizens can utilize to voice concerns ranging from municipal services to their own mental health. Adding an extra layer of privacy can be significant in establishing trust between local governments and the residents and can lead to addressing problems that may have gone unnoticed.

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