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(Image from Technology SWAT Partnership Progress Report, courtesy of the Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo)
(Image from Technology SWAT Partnership Progress Report, courtesy of the Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo)

Cuomo announces progress of technology 'SWAT' partnership in assisting New Yorkers during COVID-19

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Mon, Jul 27th 2020 03:45 pm

First-in-the-nation public-private partnerships allow state to surge tech resources, impacting millions of New Yorkers and saving taxpayer money

Progress report details 19 pro bono projects during time of unprecedented need that bolstered state's response to pandemic

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced the progress of technology “SWAT” partnership in assisting New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first-in-the-nation public-private service partnerships allowed the state to surge tech resources, impacting millions of new Yorkers and saving taxpayer money. The progress report details 19 pro bono projects, all of which bolstered and supported the state's response during a time of unprecedented need.

"The collaboration between tech industry leaders and our dedicated public employees helped New York meet the technical and operational demands of the response to the pandemic while also saving millions in taxpayer dollars," Cuomo said. "Their assistance during these challenging times had a positive impact on millions of New Yorkers, and the continued support and services will be critical as we battle a public health emergency and build back our economy even stronger than before."

The New York state COVID-19 tech “SWAT” team, in coordination with state-led internal technical teams, developed 40 projects during the COVID-19 public health crisis that resulted in nearly 50 million interactions between the public and state government and an estimated cost savings of approximately $14 million, according to the progress report issued by the state's Office of Information Technology Services.

A press release said, “In March, at Cuomo's direction, ITS solicited volunteers to help develop technological solutions to support and accelerate New York state's coordinated, decisive, and rapidly evolving response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The response from the private sector was unprecedented, with nearly 7,300 volunteers representing 3,500 organizations answering the call to service.”

ITS worked with the governor's office and the state Department of Financial Services to formally establish volunteer teams of trained civic-minded technical professionals to work alongside state staff and assist in New York's response during 30- to 90-day sprints. The team also coordinated the deployment of critical contributions of technical equipment and software to support COVID-19 activities.

The “SWAT” team has since assisted state agencies with operations, analytics and other technological applications that allowed them to continue to deliver critical services during the pandemic. During that timeframe, 19 projects were developed pro bono, delivering a combined 25,000 hours of volunteer support and saving taxpayers approximately $14 million.

In addition, the state developed 21 priority projects managed and led entirely by internal government teams at ITS, the office of Digital and Media Services, and other internal agency teams. New Yorkers frequently relied on these initiatives online, with digital projects yielding 49 million service interactions and 342 million page views across 60 million users.

Pro bono tech projects developed during the COVID-19 response include:

•COVID-19 and Antibody Screening, Scheduling and Testing Platform – ITS and NYS Department of Health partnered with Microsoft to launch a statewide COVID-19 screening platform that enabled residents to self-screen for symptoms, request and schedule a COVID-19 test, and receive results from one of New York's state-run testing sites. Similar functionality was created for antibody testing. This platform is currently being used by volunteers in Houston to get test sites up and running.

•COVID-19 Screening Application – ITS and DOH partnered with Apple to make New York the first in the nation to integrate local COVID-19 information on social distancing, testing, and economic reopening guidance into its COVID-19 mobile and website screening application.

•Google.Org COVID-19 Fellowship – ITS is collaborating with a skilled team of fellows to reimagine a user-friendly experience to help users find the services and assistance they may qualify for in less time and to collect feedback on how to continue to improve these services, set to fully launch in the fall.

•Statewide COVID-19 Testing Lookup Tool – ITS and DOH partnered with Google and Castlight to publish and update a comprehensive map – listing 750-plus COVID-19 and antibody testing sites across the state.

•NYS Digital Training Initiative – ITS partnered with Microsoft, Mastercard, Square and Codecademy to develop a series of workshops and individualized technical training opportunities for state workers across ITS, the NY Digital Service Team, and other internal agencies to increase engagement during remote work, hone digital skills, and deliver best-in-class digital services as residents continue to access services remotely.

ITS-led projects developed during the COVID-19 response include:

•DOL Unemployment Insurance Application – ITS worked with Google Cloud to launch a redesigned unemployment insurance application, which included developing a mobile-responsive upfront interface to collect user info and upload it to the agency website during downtimes to reduce timeouts and call center volumes; overhauling the design and steps associated with the unemployment insurance process; further streamlining the overall process; and integrating the pandemic unemployment assistance process into a single application.

•Statewide COVID-19 Data Dashboard – ITS, in partnership with DOH, launched a dashboard to publicly report on COVID-19 cases, locations, recoveries and other data points segmented by region, race, age and other key factors.

•“New York Forward State Reopening Website and Business Reopening Lookup Tool – ITS and the Digital Service Team collaborated to build the “New York Forward” website, a one-stop shop to guide businesses on their reopening plan and provide New Yorkers with the data and resources to stay safe and track regional reopening announcements. The team also developed a “New York Forward” business reopening lookup tool to assist businesses in determining their eligibility for reopening as well as regulations for reopening.

•COVID-19 Screening Application for NYS Agencies and Entities – ITS developed an application to streamline and standardize the daily health screening process for state agencies and authorities as they phase employees back into the workplace amid COVID-19.

ITS Interim Chief Information Officer and Director Jeremy Goldberg said, "Under Gov. Cuomo's leadership, New York state has moved with urgency, professionalism and resilience to tackle COVID-19 head-on. As part of that effort, we've received unprecedented assistance from civic-minded technologists across the state and nation to support our response. We thank them for their skills and their generosity and applaud our dedicated government technology staff in supporting New Yorkers during this time of need."

Superintendent of Financial Services Linda A. Lacewell said, "Under Gov. Cuomo's leadership, New Yorkers have bravely flattened the curve. This progress report is a testament to what can be achieved when government and industry both step up and work together to deliver creative and innovative solutions to build New York back better."

Head of Government Affairs for Google NY Angela Pinsky said, "When New York put out the call for help, Google was eager to answer. As we continue to navigate the crisis of the pandemic together, the governor's office, ITS, and all of the agencies have remained organized, directed, and clear-visioned in structuring these innovative and novel public-private collaborations. We were honored to be able to provide the technological expertise and resources of our Google.org Fellows to help our fellow New Yorkers during this critical time."

President of U.S. Regulated Industries at Microsoft Toni Townes-Whitley said, "The leadership shown by New York state with the coronavirus state technology ‘SWAT’ team has helped New Yorkers through the first phases of this pandemic. Microsoft is pleased to have played a supporting role, not only helping New York deliver a mobile COVID self-assessment tool to its citizens, but also accelerating technology innovation to support them through each phase of the crisis."

NYS tech “SWAT” initiative was made possible by deep internal partnership across various state teams, including the work of the Chamber Digital Strategy & Social Media team, Department of Health, Department of Labor, Department of Motor Vehicle Services, and Department of Agriculture and Markets. Tech SWAT partners included Apple, Accenture, Acquia, Armanino LLP, Castlight, Cisco, Codecademy, Dell, Google, H2R Product Science, HPE, LinkedIn, Ludia Consulting, Mastercard, Microsoft, Square, Tata Consultancy Services and Unisys.

To download the full report highlighting the “SWAT” program and its associated projects, visit the program website here.

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