Google’s Government Innovation Labs is an initiative which provides various government officials with access to Google’s enterprise technology, developers and experts to contribute to county improvement projects.
Google’s regional manager for state and local government James Waterman announced the official launch of the program at the Government and Social Media Conference and Expo in April. Waterman explains the strategy: “Each leadership team gets to pick five hard pressing challenges and in a Google-like way, we come together and we bring this kind of 10X, moonshot-type of thinking approach.”
During his announcement, as an example of this approach, Waterman referenced Google Cloud Premier Partner SADA Systems’ recent project for the City of Chicago: dotMaps, an interactive mapping solution built on Google Maps and Google Cloud Platform to resolve inefficiencies in how they coordinated their city infrastructure projects. Google recognized SADA for innovative projects like dotMaps with the 2014 Global Partner of the Year for Google Maps.
The dotMaps application saved the City over $24 million in 2014 when it was launched. “Rather than spend a million to talk about doing it, here’s a city that spent less to actually do it,” said Waterman. His vision is to apply this kind of thinking to make a difference in state and local governments across the country.
Waterman worked closely with SADA Systems on his first three flagship projects with three counties in California – Kern, Alameda and San Joaquin – to take the lead in strategically implementing Google technology to solve critical public sector issues. Jason Weibe, the administrative analyst coordinating the lab for Kern County, shared, “It’s about coming in with a blank slate and creating something new — whether that’s technology driven or not.”
“What Google has essentially provided us is some of their best thought leaders in their organization, but also outside their organization,” said San Joaquin’s County Administrator Monica Nino. First, Google and SADA worked with the counties to identify five critical issues. They gather all the stakeholders together to talk about moonshot thinking, and establish goals and objectives for approaching city problems. Then, leaders are strategically chosen from different functional groups according to the five issues to continue the engagement and bring solutions back to their respective departments.
So far, amidst the brainstorming and projects in progress, SADA has seen three common issues and innovation priorities emerge:
Issue #1: The stigma that government processes are bureaucratic and inefficient
Innovation Priority: Creating a one-stop shop for information
The process helped clarify that the issue is not about city leaders not having the data the public wants to see, but rather the difficulty it often takes to find that data.
A common problem and contributor to that stigma is that constituents will often walk into the wrong agency/office to get help and be told they need to go somewhere else, causing frustration especially for those without access to transportation. SADA and Google chose to attack this stigma by providing a one-stop shop for information, leveraging Google Enterprise Search to provide employees and the public access to all county information, across all departments, through a single search box – Google Search Appliance. This comprehensive and holistic approach reduces confusion and misunderstandings in order to streamline government processes.
Another initiative that SADA came up with was having constituents fill out a request form using Google Forms with all relevant information about income, benefits, needs and more. This allows county workers to prequalify requests and provide highly accurate service.
Issue #2: Lack of communication for emergency preparedness
Innovation Priority: Leveraging mobile technology for emergency notification and instruction
Google and SADA’s approach to notifying the public during an emergency was to use existing mobile technology for both response and notification. Citizens are allies during an emergency situation, and with existing technology such as Waze, the public can both receive and report issues or emergencies. In addition, government leaders can also push out notifications for other issues like traffic due to an event such as certain streets being blocked off during a parade. This response system is made possible with technology built on Google Maps API.
Issue #3:Siloed healthcare information
Innovation Priority: Collaboration between healthcare professionals to provide holistic care
Another issue communicated by the counties was a lack of holistic understanding of a patient’s health situation, limiting healthcare professionals’ ability to address underlying health issues. When an individual comes in for a health issue, they are often getting treatment for the symptom of a bigger problem. For health professionals to address the underlying problem, they would need to know, for example, that the individual had recently visited the mental health center the previous week. Broader communication could be aided by Google’s collaboration tools, the Google Apps suite, to provide the health professional with full picture of an individual’s health history. This will give them the ability to pull in the necessary people to provide comprehensive health care services.
Jessica Hylton, our Enterprise Consulting Manager, shares, “As humans, we’re natural born problem solvers – we think of what we want and immediately think about all the roadblocks. What we’ve seen is that the biggest challenge is actually thinking outside the box and envisioning what’s possible.” SADA is excited to bring together our user adoption experts, Google technology experts, engineers and business analysts to provide the expertise to develop strategies that will effectively resolve those challenges.
We’re thrilled to see how this new moonshot-type thinking will empower governments to transform how they serve and communicate with their constituents in the near future.
To learn more about Google Innovation Labs and other Google cloud solutions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.