A Blueprint for Municipal Digital Transformation - Kinetech Guides the City of San Antonio's Department of Human Services from Idea to Solution in 16 Weeks

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Kinetech applies their Digital Execution Strategy (KDES) to launch a custom software solution serving San Antonio's most vulnerable citizens by digitizing a paper-based utility (power & water) credit application, removing friction from the process and improving accessibility via a device agnostic web application.

The majority of population growth over the next fifty (50) years will occur in urban areas. Cities must invest in infrastructure and digital services to address this growth in a sustainable way.”

The City of San Antonio’s Department of Human Services (DHS) announced the general availability of their new, Emergency Utility Bill Assistance online application just in time for the winter holidays. The DHS solution aligns with San Antonio’s Smart City Initiative - to have San Antonio be connected, inclusive, and resilient.

The online application simplifies the original paper process by eliminating the need to print pages, photocopy supporting documentation (photo ID, proof of income, CPS Energy or SAWS bill) and even eliminates the need for most residents to visit a service center to obtain the assistance. Instead, residents can now complete the application online and upload the required documents using their smartphone or tablet’s built-in camera.

Kinetech, a Platform Mendix partner, led the Department of Human Services through the paper to digital transformation using agile development, the Mendix (low code development) platform, and the Kinetech Digital Execution Strategy™ (KDES). With this proven approach and industry best-practices, DHS was able to significantly improve the applicant / processing procedure by bringing an intuitive, robust, and user-friendly digital solution to the citizens of San Antonio.

DHS administers nearly $3 Million in credits including $2.4 Million dollars in CPS Energy bill assistance annually and $400,000 in San Antonio Water Systems (SAWS) credits. The DHS staff work closely with CPS Energy and SAWS to apply the assistance credits to the bills of eligible residents in need.

By applying the KDES, and leveraging Kinetech's agile services, DHS unlocked the potential within their organization to provide better service to their constituents by leveraging cloud-native technology. "Kinetech modified the application based on the user experience, [using agile development] and came back with modifications within 30 minutes..., that's lightning fast" according to Richard Keith, Assistant Director - DHS, City of San Antonio.

“We have found that most of our clients today have a smartphone, even if they don’t have a computer,” according to Department of Human Services Director Melody Woosley. “We wanted to make it easy for residents to use that phone to apply for the assistance they need.” The application is device agnostic and does not require the user to download an app from an app store, removing further friction from the process.

The emergency utility assistance program helps the city’s most vulnerable residents—those living within 125% of the federal poverty level—to ease the burden of utility bills during times of need and help avoid power and water service shut-offs whenever possible. For a family of four (4), total household income must be less than $31,375 to be eligible. Though the average income of applicants is closer to $14,000. The program sees the highest demand during the scorching Texas summer and colder winter months, processing over 10,000 applications annually that impact nearly 50,000 residents.

“With a paper-process it is physically impossible for our staff to provide real-time updates to our clients. Incomplete applications are further delayed by snail-mail requests for additional information; a big problem for a household hoping to prevent their utilities from being cut-off” confirmed Woosley. “In addition, the cost and inconvenience of having to photocopy supporting documentation to submit with their application is something we worked to eliminate with this new digital solution.”

Indeed, applicants can now access the application on any internet enabled smartphone or tablet with a built-in camera, take pictures of their supporting documents, and submit electronically through the digital solution.

Additional benefits of the application include a self-service portal where applicants can check the status of their application, view the average processing time for the past thirty (30) days, and receive automated notifications each time the status of their application changes. The digital solution is anticipated to cut the processing time nearly in half (from 45 minutes to 25 minutes) for the Client Service Specialists administering the program.

“Virtually every industry is being impacted by technology and local government is no different,” said Michael Guido, CEO of Kinetech. “The majority of population growth over the next fifty (50) years will occur in urban areas. Cities must invest in infrastructure and digital services to address this growth in a sustainable way.” Municipal leaders looking to leverage this blueprint may contact Kinetech or learn more https://www.kinetechcloud.com/govtech

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Michal Guido
since: 08/2014
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