The power to share and consolidate data is helping cities build smarter transportation systems, power grids and water delivery networks. But it’s also helping cities better serve community members on a personal level -- children, homeless people and others in need. New York City and its HHS-Connect initiative is a prime example.
Administered by the mayor's office, HHS-Connect harnesses technology to improve the delivery of health and human services through interagency data sharing and collaboration. The program -- profiled in a recent Data-Smart City Solutions article -- aims to reduce the bureaucratic burden for those navigating the city’s social service systems and create a service delivery model where clients, caseworkers and administrators are seeing, and working from, the same data.
HHS-Connect has three components. ACCESS NYC is a tool with its own portal that clients use to determine their eligibility for local, state and federal benefits and services, ranging from food assistance to cash support to child care. Worker Connect is a tool that human and health services workers use to search for their clients across multiple HHS agencies and view their demographic data and service histories.
The final component -- an enterprise case management solution -- is the data-sharing technology that creates the foundation for HHS-Connect. It provides a common software platform across human service agencies to enable secure communication of client, provider, and financial data between agencies and their respective contractors.
Engaging the stakeholders
HHS-Connect also serves as a case study in how a city can move forward with a potentially disruptive system change. As described in the Data-Smart City Solutions piece, the effort required bringing together chief administrators and city technologists to develop a strategic plan. The deputy mayor was charged with coordinating the work and providing crucial political leadership. An executive order established a clear governance structure for the initiative.
City officials also solicited feedback on the evolving HHS-Connect tools from various end-user groups including beneficiaries, community organizations and city employees. City leaders also worked to help staff buy in to the changes prior to the HHS-Connect launch. Managers and supervisors familiar with case management routines conducted training sessions, enabling workers to see the potential of the HHS-Connect tools to reduce their workloads.
The value of deploying city systems with architectures that enable sharing and integration of data is discussed in more detail in the Smart Cities Council Readiness Guide. The Readiness Guide is available for free when you register to become a SCC member.
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