The pandemic has underscored the need at City Hall to make its residential and business services more widely accessible, including on cell phones.
A recent citywide inventory identified 967 government services that residents, businesses and visitors use to file a police report or pay taxes, for example. However, only 20 percent or 194 of these are available online in a format that is mobile-friendly and accessible for people with disabilities, ”according to the latest five-year information and communication technology plan, which the Board of Directors has yet to review.
City manager Carmen Chu, who oversees the drafting of the plan, wants this to change.
“COVID-19 has shown the importance of technology to reach our residents, especially when a face-to-face meeting is out of the question,” Chu wrote in the plan. “With the clarity of the experience learned, our mission is now to provide universally accessible services to every resident, business and visitor.” Universally accessible means “for use on a mobile device”.
However, it is not a small company.
“Many of the city services need to be redesigned to meet the needs of every resident, especially our most vulnerable,” the plan said.
For those who don’t have internet access, a mobile phone is often the main device to stay connected. “Over 100,000 residents do not have internet access at home and many rely on a single mobile device such as a cell phone to access the internet,” says the plan.
However, achieving the goal is associated with fiscal challenges. Chu noted that “the demand for technology investment continues to exceed the available resources.”
The plan was drafted by the Information Technology Committee, commonly referred to as the COIT, which Chu oversees.
COIT recommends increasing the usual technical allocation from the city budget by 5% annually through the 2022-23 fiscal year to “support service redesign projects”.
“The competing needs of aging technologies and the demand for modern services have reached a breaking point,” the plan said. “According to current trends, all existing COIT funds are being used up by replacing older systems.”
The board can only provide $ 17 million in IT funding for the next fiscal year, a significant decrease from previous years due to the economic downturn. The city departments had applied for a total of $ 36.9 million in general fund dollars to fund 74 technology projects with a total cost of $ 51 million.
By comparison, COIT provided $ 40 million in technology funding in fiscal year 18-19. COIT recommends The City to return to this level of investment within five years.
COIT also calls on the department heads to submit a “roadmap for digital transformation” starting with the budget proposals for the 2022-23 financial year. They would also be regularly informed about their status of making their services accessible via mobile devices.
The plan prioritizes redesigning workplaces, housing, and permit services, although it’s not clear how long it would take or what the total cost is.
104 different residential support services were identified, spread across 12 different departments, only seven of which are designed for mobile devices. There are more than 500 approval and license types grouped into 127 approval services, of which only 18 are designed for mobile services.
In 23 departments, 88 different job and business development services were identified to “empower workers and small businesses”.
“However, as we plan for the future, only a minority of them are designed to be accessible via mobile devices or to people with disabilities,” the plan said.
There is a project in the works to help job seekers.
The Bureau of Business and Human Resources Development plans to launch a $ 1.45 million online technology initiative called WorkforceLinkSF, known as a “one-stop job matching tool.”
Employers can post jobs and job seekers can apply.
“Job seekers can apply for jobs via WorkforceLinkSF and track the progress of their applications,” says a description of the project. “Employers can view résumés and hire candidates directly through WorkforceLinkSF while tracking a candidate’s progress through the website.”
“Our goal is to bring it to market this year,” OEWD spokeswoman Gloria Chan told the San Francisco Examiner.
A recent mobile-friendly measure that was seen as a success of the plan was the launch of DAHLIA in 2017, which postponed the application process and listing of apartments online below market price.
Bay Area Newssan Francisco New Technology
If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, you can join our Examiner membership program.
Learn more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/