After a year of anticipation, we were witness to a highly complex and decentralized COVID-19 vaccination launch that left many frustrated but, eventually, vaccinated. Driven by a large-scale community effort, 162 million residents have secured vaccine appointments and became fully vaccinated, as of July 2021.
As Alyssa Levitz leaves her Technologist in Residence position at U.S. Digital Response, she reflects upon what drove her to volunteer in the first place — and where the journey took her.
As the United States was being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, I was isolating at home with my family, recently unemployed, and trying to figure out what I wanted to do in a quarter-life-crisis kind of way. That’s when a friend and U.S. Digital Response (USDR) volunteer, Priya Garg, reached out to tell me about USDR’s work supporting governments to deliver critical services to residents through technology. I…
USDR to expand its executive team as founding CEO, Raylene Yung, transitions to a new role within the Biden Administration.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — U.S. Digital Response (USDR) today announced the appointment of Jessica Cole as interim CEO and the expansion of its executive team with the addition of Tina Walha as USDR’s Director of Public Digital. Founding CEO Raylene Yung will transition from her position to join the Biden Administration, working on technology modernization at the General Services Administration (GSA) starting next month.
Cole previously served as USDR’s Chief Operating Officer and is one of the organization’s co-founders. She…
By: Jessie Posilkin
USDR’s unemployment insurance team has been hard at work over the past year supporting 10 states with their benefits systems, using design, plain language, communications strategy, software development, and more to get benefits to eligible claimants faster, and make agency employees’ jobs easier. Out of this work, we’ve identified common problems and created solutions that can be easily replicated by other teams across states and jurisdictions.
We’ve collated these solutions into an Unemployment Insurance Modernization Gitbook to encourage others to help edit, implement, and share it.
If you’re looking for places to start:
By Alyssa Levitz & Waldo Jaquith
Contributions By Jessie Posilkin
At U.S. Digital Response, we have partnered with workforce development agencies in nine states — and counting — to help them improve their Unemployment Insurance (“UI”) websites, benefits portals, and processes to better serve their constituents. Our approach is to identify the needs of a user (whether that’s a claimant, employer, or agency staff) and reduce their barriers to completing key tasks. We make iterative improvements to pieces of the UI system without tackling the entire system all at once.
By Elham Ali
In recent months, the U.S. Digital Response health program has partnered with a number of public health offices, governments, and community organizations to implement digital communications tools and carefully crafted messaging designed to reach and resonate with a diverse range of communities. USDR’s partners share a goal of establishing COVID-19 vaccinations as a social norm that is both acceptable and regarded as collectively beneficial. Examining their communications through an equity lens is essential to meeting this goal.
By Izzie Zahorian
As a user experience researcher and designer at Google AI, I spend my days advocating for the needs of users across emergent technology projects. Since January 2021, I have been volunteering with U.S. Digital Response because I am passionate about helping make government services as accessible, human, and efficient as possible — both for those seeking help as well as for the public servants and partners who deliver these services.
One of the most meaningful projects I have supported with USDR began when a call was put out for pro bono assistance to help Neighborhood Preservation Inc…
After the year we’ve all had, we think it’s important to acknowledge the pain, pressure and loss felt by our communities — and to also make time for a brief pause to celebrate all those who spent this year in service of their communities, doing hard and intensely important work to meet those critical needs. …
On May 5, U.S. Digital Response brought together a virtual panel of some of the best in government and technology to reflect on what’s happened over the last year, how we’ve supported communities in need, what we’ve learned, and what digital response efforts will look like in future crises. While better data and technical tools are not a perfect panacea, it’s important that we, as technologists and public servants, try to use all of the tools at our disposal, especially the technical ones, to do all that we can to make progress on these fronts. …
By Janell Schafer, CDS and Jessica Cole, USDR
Over the past year, U.S. Digital Response (USDR) and Colorado Digital Service (CDS) tried something new. Less than a year into both forming, we decided to experiment with ways that a government digital services team and an organization offering pro bono technical expertise could partner to get things done in a moment of global crisis.
Colorado Digital Service launched in late 2019 within the Governor’s Office of Information Technology to develop user-centered solutions for Colorado’s most pressing technical challenges. Only months later, in March 2020, U.S. Digital Response was established to serve…