When the world was forced to go primarily online, state governments also faced the reality of needing to provide community services without the health risk of meeting in person. Old systems that relied on interpersonal contact could not keep up. An unprecedented number of displaced workers swamped every unemployment system. The capacity challenges weren’t limited to state labor departments either. Everything from birth certificates and marriage licenses to apostilles and court system services that could usually be handled by a simple walk-in had to be scheduled in advance. Both internal and external communication suffered.
To meet these challenges, many organizations turned to new technology solutions and innovative approaches.
How VAST helped Arizona get back to work
The State of Arizona had tens of thousands of constituents who relied on pandemic unemployment insurance and would also need tools to reenter the workforce.Tim Tucker, Deputy Administrator of the Workforce Development Administration for the Arizona Department of Economic Security, started preparing in late 2020. He collaborated with Google Cloud and SADA to introduce the Virtual Appointment Scheduling Tool (VAST)to State of Arizona staff members. Using VAST reduced the excessive workload taken on by the Workforce Development Administration as they got Arizona back to work. VAST lets constituents book an appointment, upload documents and forms, and conduct career counseling virtually. This helped constituents move through the system faster so they could successfully reenter the workforce.
That preparation paid off. As of September 2021, Arizona had recovered the majority of the jobs lost during the pandemic. It has also seen one of the smallest percent change in employment compared with pre-pandemic numbers. Even more impressive, Arizona is one of only five states where unemployment claims are now lower than pre-pandemic numbers. Using VAST helped them get people back to work faster and has become a permanent part of their unemployment program.
Bringing streamlined services to the community
To fully realize a solution to the challenges faced by our public sector customers, we focused on three key areas in which we knew we needed VAST to excel:
Efficient staff allocation
Streamlined internal meetings
Confident constituent interactions
We also knew our customers needed to get VAST online fast, and it needed to work with existing infrastructure without requiring a total overhaul. These areas informed the design of VAST’s features and have allowed us to meet the challenges faced by agencies such as the Arizona Department of Economic Security.
Virtual Agent support and integrations
VAST gives constituents 24×7 virtual agent support powered by Google Cloud’s contact center AI virtual agents. Virtual agents are custom programmed to fit the specific needs of each agency and community they serve. It’s easy to add new options and information whenever an update is needed. Virtual agents can be designed to understand the user’s intent and serve up relevant content for a smooth user experience on both ends of the system. Virtual agents run at scale and offer multi-language support, ensuring they can serve everyone in the community. By pairing these with VAST, constituents can experience seamless self-service.
6 week deployment time
Most of our public sector clients needed a solution yesterday. VAST can be deployed rapidly, taking about six weeks from start to finish, which includes everything–even staff training time.
Integration with Google Workspace and Chrome
VAST securely integrates with other Google solutions, such as Google Workspace and Chromebooks. We work to ensure VAST is fully functional within your existing systems.
Collaboration and support
SADA collaborates with each organization to ensure that the design, development, and functionality of VAST align with their needs. SADA specializes in helping public sector customers migrate to Google Cloud.
Application administrators have access to analytic data gathered by VAST and options to customize and add additional datasets.This data helps organizations find blind spots in coverage, fix service bottlenecks, and better organize internal resources. Leveraging this data gives organizations the power to make changes, resulting in everything from a smoother customer experience to cost savings.
To learn more about how Google Cloud has supported Arizona during the pandemic, check out this blog on how their vaccination distribution system leveraged Google Cloud to get the vaccine to more people. For more information on how VAST can streamline a customer experience.
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