City of Waiblingen
City of Waiblingen Incorporates Data Management Into Successful Pandemic Response Strategy
At the height of the pandemic, speed of information and knowledge sharing were of the utmost importance to minimize the economic impact. “Like every other municipality we were challenged to exchange information as quickly and error-free as possible to meet the requirements associated with the coronavirus pandemic”, said Johannes Tiemann, CIO of the COVID Teams for the City of Waiblingen, “We could’ve expanded the scope of our previously used applications, but meeting technical requirements, implementation, and testing usually takes several weeks to months.”
The team was tasked to manage citizen information streams using siloed, manual processes, heightening the need for digital transformation. “We had to accelerate our processes to react promptly in a way that we’ve never had to before and we needed an immediate solution to manage the process automation,” Tiemann continued.
In partnership with Eigenherd, IT partner, the City of Waiblingen was able to shorten the time it takes for data and information to make its way through their channels from 2 weeks to 30 minutes on Salesforce.
Automation Is Key
The City of Waiblingen’s communication channels consisted of both digital and analog processes. Initially, if a citizen wanted to report Coronavirus information, they had to do so by phone or standard mail. Due to the delays associated with this process, local authorities assumed the responsibility of taking printed forms to citizens’ homes. Citizens were then presented with the option of processing their completed forms either by phone or email which ultimately enabled officials to document the impact of the virus, and report back to the community health center. Both channels required that local authorities manually transfer information into the administration systems. In total, the operation from data gathering to input took approximately 2 weeks.
“We wanted to establish a digital way that automated the first point of citizen interaction and the reporting of their data. We also wanted to make it easier to enter and transfer data securely,” said Tiemann, “The main requirements of the digital channels were to be secure and easily incorporated into the everyday lives of the population”.
The Online Access Act regulates how German citizens deal with official matters online. The City of Waiblingen’s initiative to bring all of their digital technology up to date was in direct alignment with the Federation's goal to make public administration easier through user-friendly digital forms and documents. “Mayor Hesky supported the digitization of our work very much” recalled Tiemann, “ He also informed the local council early on that we’ve taken on a ‘pioneering role’ in Waiblingen”.
The team began to strategize avenues to create a web portal where citizens could input their data and trigger the necessary communication channels.With leadership’s support and a digital transformation strategy, the technical solution for crisis management was launched.
Innovating Digital Channels
In comparison to other local agencies, the City of Waiblingen already had a solid, digital foundation in place which enabled the administration to work from home via remote access to legacy systems. Tiemann and team decided to close the information gap of the initial digital and analog processes by developing an automated data information system on the Salesforce Customer 360 platform for Government. It extended Waiblingen’s use of the cloud into interdepartmental operations and citizen interactions to manage the pandemic. The new infrastructure consists of a citizen portal which was created and linked to the city’s website; enabling citizens to provide the city with the exposure information needed to manage the pandemic.
In the event that a citizen was exposed to the Coronavirus, they would log into the citizen portal via Experience Cloud, which powers a public-facing online community hub that enables citizens to exchange data and request information from public officials. Here, the person is prompted to input their last relevant contacts, such as their children’s schools, and each point of contact is automatically notified by the community health center. The self-service aspect of the solution provides citizens with a safe and anonymous domain to complete forms and certificates.
Meanwhile on the backend, Sales Cloud provides city employees with the tools to manage the data provided by the citizens in a profile-like setting, helping them create a 360-degree view of anyone exposed. The team uses this as a single source of truth to issue forms, communicate updates, and collaborate internally and externally with the health department. “We now have both technical interfaces and automated processes for storing and exchanging data within our core environment and with other local agencies”, stated Tiemann.
The information safely stored within the administrative system can now easily be searched and selected using drag and drop menus. Documents such as sample letters and emails are also stored with the solution and contact information can be inserted via a digital directory.
Combining Public Health & Citizens Services
“The entire system went live in just three weeks, and the fact that the Salesforce technology is cloud-based enabled us to achieve this enormous speed of implementation, which was extremely necessary.” Tiemann.
The impact of the solution to date is currently being realized by the citizen services and the health department communication channels:
- The City of Waiblingen was able to shorten the time it takes for their data and information to make its way through their channels from 2 weeks to 30 minutes on Salesforce.
- By leveraging Salesforce, the data processing time has decreased from 8 hours per employee to 1 hour per employee.
- In total, the City of Waiblingen now only needs one-third of the staff for follow- up on reported Coronavirus cases.
“The user interface is very intuitive and self-explanatory for our employees'', stated Tiemann, “The goal was to automate the upstream tasks and bring data into our systems as quickly and securely as possible. And we’ve succeeded in doing so”.