The COVID-19 pandemic tested our nation’s public benefits system in unimaginable ways. With an unprecedented 60 million individuals turning to unemployment and social services to satisfy their basic needs, state and local governments were stretched to meet the demand.
But state and local government leaders have risen to the challenge of providing their constituents with critical services. They created and administered innovative solutions, complete with wholly original processes, and brought desperately needed employment, cash, food, and healthcare support to families in crisis. These public sector heroes raised the bar during this critical time and facilitated economic recovery for our local communities, making the impossible possible for its people.
When state and local government agencies partner with Google Cloud, they can reimagine how they deliver human services and labor services for their communities. Check out this video which highlights the power of customer innovation – all in a matter of weeks, instead of months or years.
Tools that solve for remote work and service delivery hurdles
Never before was there such a need for modern and accessible tools to allow a workforce to secure new jobs and operate remotely. The Virtual Career Center (VCC), built on Google Cloud, was designed with these needs in mind.
Google Workspace, including Google Meet, allows job seekers to schedule video meetings with career coaches, job recruiters, and potential employers. The Google Job Search API will enable them to explore career opportunities best suited to their skills and interests.
A thousand miles away, the Rhode Island Virtual Career Center was helping its job seekers by offering virtual meetings with career coaches, the ability to schedule meetings with prospective employers, and help on building effective resumes. Skipper, the CareerCompass RI Bot, an intelligent agent for careers, uses data and machine learning to facilitate potential new career paths and reskilling opportunities for Rhode Islanders.
In addition to enabling remote work, Google Workspace can support remote service delivery, a critical need for those involved in health and human services programs. Engaging with individuals and families is an essential component for more of these programs, including eligibility determination, assessment, and service delivery. The ability to engage directly with the public through virtual interviews, counseling sessions, telehealth, etc. improves access for those on both sides of the screen. Further, through Google Classroom, a component of Google Workspace for Education, foster and adoptive parents can obtain virtual training required for licensing.
Tools to expedite relief funds and employment assistance
As the number of people applying for unemployment assistance skyrocketed, so did the backlog of claims requiring review. The pandemic also saw a rise in fraudulent claims, which caused delays for families waiting on legitimate payments and resulted in unnecessary spending for government agencies. Realizing the magnitude of the challenge was beyond the agencies’ current resources, and they shifted their focus to machine learning.
To address the massive backlog of claims, SpringML partnered with Google Cloud to develop the Improper Payment Analytics solution that successfully leverages AI to help agencies identify fraudulent claims and avoid improper payments so aid can be prioritized for those who need it. Though such a tool would typically take months to develop, the team was able to launch it in just weeks, to the benefit of all stakeholders involved. Families awaiting legitimate payments received checks more quickly, and state and local governments saved millions in spending.
For instance, to address erroneous payments totaling $330 million to fraudulent applicants, the State of Ohio partnered with Google Cloud to utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions to proactively identify and decline improper payment risks. As a result, the State avoided paying fraudulent claims and accelerated the payment of legitimate benefits to families facing financial hardship.
The New York State Department of Labor launched a streamlined unemployment application to allow residents to apply for pandemic unemployment assistance without the added burden of applying for unemployment insurance. Success was immediate, and the application backlog plummeted as New Yorkers got the financial aid they desperately needed. Illinois took a different approach, deploying Contact Center Artificial Intelligence (CCAI) to create virtual agents who assist with specialized calls 24/7, in multiple languages, providing turn-by-turn guidance in real-time. Conversations can be turned into insights through analytics and reporting tools that uncover key call drivers and customer sentiment. By solving for spikes in call volume, CCAI has helped process more than 1 million unemployment claims.
Automated data solutions bring immediate food and cash assistance resources
With millions out of work and out of school during the pandemic, food and cash assistance became a critical need. Applying for all of these benefits requires significant documentation that, in most cases, has historically been manually processed. Given the volume of people in need, this took a massive amount of human resources and time.
Using Document AI (DocAI), agencies can automate this highly manual process and speed up the delivery of critical benefits to individuals and families. DocAI extracts the key data, provides a confidence score in a single review pane for staff review, and automatically uploads that data to the case management system–significantly reducing manual processing. Today, these state and local government organizations turn to DocAI to eliminate the difficult paperwork application process to help meet the benefit needs of their residents now and tomorrow, as illustrated by both the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and the State of Hawaii.
The Wisconsin DWD streamlined their paper unemployment insurance claims using DocAI by enabling DWD staff to receive critical data extracted from submitted applications and make decisions rapidly, saving time for both applicants and staff. The State of Hawaii also used DocAI to extract, interpret, and transport COVID-19 test result data of incoming travelers to Google Cloud instantly. As a result, Hawaii was able to welcome travelers and reopen its economy in the midst of the pandemic.
Partner with us
After making it through this very difficult period, agencies have emerged from the pandemic with stronger labor and health and human service delivery for their residents. State and local governments recognized the necessity of virtual engagement and expanded access to services to meet this critical moment, solving for work, cash, food and healthcare needs.
To learn more about Google Cloud for human services and labor, contact your Google Cloud sales representative. Let’s get solving together.
By: Brent Mitchell (Managing Director US State & Local and Canada Public Sector) and Denise Winkler (Strategic Business Executive, Global Public Sector, Google Cloud)
Source: Google Cloud Blog