Press release: City of Bloomington Partners with Google.org to Improve Access to Government Services

“The following press release was shared with the Bloomingtonian Monday:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 6, 2022

For more information, please contact:

Rick Dietz, Director, Information and Technology Services 

[email protected] or 812-349-3454

Andrew Krebbs, Communications Director, Office of the Mayor

[email protected] or 812-349-3406

City of Bloomington Partners with Google.org to Improve Access to Government Services

Bloomington, Ind.–Mayor John Hamilton announced today that the City of Bloomington will receive pro bono support from a team of Google.org Fellows to deploy CiviForm, a tool to simplify and centralize online applications for government assistance programs. CiviForm is an open-source tool developed originally by the City of Seattle with support from Google.org to make applying for government programs easier and faster. 

A team of 12 Google employees will work full-time with the City of Bloomington for six months as part of a Google.org Fellowship,  providing pro bono technical expertise to nonprofits and civic entities. The City of Bloomington ITS Department (Information & Technology Services) will lead this initiative in partnership with Parks & Recreation.

The CiviForm pilot program will focus on improving the application processes for public benefits programs like the Parks Foundation Youth Scholarship program and the ITS Surplus Computer Request process. After the Fellowship ends, City staff can continue using CiviForm further to improve online access to other City services. 

“This partnership can help our residents access and apply for City programs. It can help City departments review applicants in an equitable and consistent manner. That’s a win-win,” said Mayor Hamilton, “and good local democracy into action.” 

“Google and the City of Bloomington share a commitment to creating opportunity for everyone,” said Rob Biederman, Director of External Affairs for Google. “By bringing together the best of Google’s tech expertise with the City’s knowledge of the community’s needs, we hope to simplify the benefits application process for Bloomington residents.”

During a project coordinating site visit last week, at the direction of the City, Google researchers conducted user interviews with residents to gain a better understanding of customer needs and experiences related to program access and online applications. This input will help the City improve its online experience for customers. 

PROJECT SUMMARY

The City of Bloomington views CiviForm (initially built through a Google.org Fellowship with the City of Seattle) as a means of supporting the City’s goal of providing sustainable, resilient, and equitable economic opportunity for all City residents by enabling residents to apply for City services.

Many Bloomington residents have limited awareness of City programs and must navigate complicated enrollment steps to apply — some of which are still offline. Google.org Fellows will collaborate across City Departments to deploy CiviForm to enable low-income residents to enter their information once to apply to many programs securely and efficiently. 

The City of Bloomington’s goals using CiviForm: 

  • Provide an easy-to-use way for residents to apply for city programs
  • Improve internal City review and information publishing processes
  • Reduce dependency on proprietary solutions for receiving applications
  • Enable collecting applications from residents and intermediaries without paper or paper-equivalent forms (e.g. fillable Word or PDF files)

ABOUT GOOGLE.ORG FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM

  • Google.org works to bring the best of Google to nonprofits and civic entities who are tackling the toughest challenges. The Google.org Fellowship embeds teams of Googlers with nonprofits or civic entities for up to six months of full-time pro-bono work. Fellows and their host nonprofit or civic entity build solutions together, working as a team to ensure that Googlers’ work has a sustained and lasting impact.
  • The Fellowship is Google.org’s flagship employee engagement and professional development offering. 
  • The Fellows participating have expertise in software engineering, user experience research and design, marketing, product management, data science, and more.

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