How do you distribute $37 million to 100,000 residents across the country’s second largest city in less than 30 days? How do you do that – but during the world’s largest pandemic in 100 years?

A look at how an appointment scheduling model helped the City of LA achieve this feat, and how it can be replicated to help municipalities large and small manage vaccination scheduling in the coming months of 2021.

The Goal: Rapid Response for Relief Funds

In the early weeks of the March 2020 pandemic closures, households, businesses, and institutions had to think quickly on their feet as to how to carry on. Social distancing and the weeks-long stay-at-home mandates that ensued made it exceptionally difficult to do, well – anything. Raising and distributing financial aid in the public-private sector was no exception.

With millions out of work and hit hard by restaurant, hospitality and retail closures, the City of Los Angeles announced in mid-April that it would utilize the Mayor’s Fund to provide financial assistance to its most vulnerable residents via the Angeleno Card initiative, regardless of citizenship status.

The Coronavirus Resources – Angeleno Card is a prepaid debit card (EBT) made available to LA residents living at or below the poverty line in mid-March 2020, and who had lost at least half their income due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The cards were preloaded with various amounts up to $1,500 depending on the size of the applicant family and designed to give the card holders’ autonomy in how to utilize the funds – whether to purchase groceries, make rent payments, or pay a utilities bill. Most recipients spent the funds on food expenses.

At the onset of the program, the goal of the fund was to distribute $10 million. Fast forward to the end of June 2020, and the program raised and distributed nearly $37 million to approximately 30,000 families (104,000 individuals) in Los Angeles.

Making It Happen: How Partnerships Made It Possible in under 30 Days

Following an influx in the demand for and number of applicants for the Angeleno Card, the City of L.A. partnered with Engageware, Mastercard’s City Possible program, and Oracle’s CX Service & Intelligent Advisor (IA) to help address the logistical challenge presented in raising donations, screening applicants, and distributing the funds given the health and public safety protocols associated with the pandemic.

For a process that was initiated utilizing a call center, Google sheets, multi-step verification and screening, and manual documentation – the technology partnership allowed the city of LA to streamline and automate these heavily manual processes to distribute the funds quickly and efficiently.

“We had to come up with how to distribute the Angeleno cards, how to take appointments for the cards (where Engageware comes in), how to get money onto the cards quickly. When it was all said and done, we were able to come up with a program in April, build it in two weeks and get all the money out the door by June,” – Mary Hodge, City of LA

“By automating the appointment flow, the City was able to not only avoid crowds but also better enable social distancing, keeping residents and staff safe.” – Constellation Research

The logistics of the City of LA’s endeavor was supported by technology from Engageware, Oracle CX Service, and Oracle Intelligent Advisor.

One particularly challenging component was coordinating the scheduling of 55,000 appointments across 21 locations – seemingly simple and easy on the front-end for the user, but quite complex on the backend. This involves complex computing that consistently balances the following:

  • 21 locations (distribution centers)
  • Availability of every possible time slot
  • Matching it to applicants availability
  • Continuous balance of appointment availability & users availability to reflect accurately in real-time

What you’re doing is a combination of trying to make it very easy for the end user to get what they want — in this case, an appointment to get one of these cards– but you have to balance the 22 locations, the availability of every possible time slot, and the choice of the individual of when they’re available.

And you have to be constantly balancing the availability of appointments with when people want them and what location. So that’s where the technology comes in. Some of the most sophisticated things are the things that look easy because that’s the way they work really well for the end user. But behind the scenes, it’s very sophisticated.”

– Bill Clark, Engageware CEO

Are you a city, town or municipality needing help with vaccination scheduling or other pandemic-related endeavors? Schedule Time with us to learn how Engageware can help.

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