The city is doing things that we have not done in the past, so it’s really an unknown [time]. But we feel like we’re better prepared to be able to meet whatever demands may come because we have partners like Cask.”
Joyce Edson, City of Los Angeles
Senior Meal Emergency Response Program
Following the success of the COVID-19 testing application, the City of LA again turned to Cask for help with another aspect of the city’s COVID-19 efforts: the Senior Meals Emergency Response program. Prior to the pandemic, the city had two existing programs to help serve homebound seniors with healthy, nutritious meals. The application allowed for seniors to self-register for up to three meals a day, but the technology that was being used to allocate and schedule deliveries featured only limited, front-end only capabilities.
As the city began implementing the stay at home orders, the number of Los Angeles’ seniors – already at higher risk of contracting the disease – experiencing food-insecurity grew. The existing application would require more development.
There’s a lot of things to think about, data to track, and we had to also keep an eye on the types of metrics and reporting that would be needed for this application. There are a lot of logistics, and Cask has been a great partner.”
Eduardo Magos, City of Los Angeles
Scaling Up Response
An influx of new FEMA funding allowed the program to increase the total number of seniors receiving meals. This included seniors that previously had not qualified for other similar programs. The funding additionally allowed for new partners to be brought on, including local restaurants and commercial kitchens, who would provide some of the additional meals to area seniors. Taxicab drivers were brought on to assist with point-to-point meal delivery, picking up meals directly from restaurants or other sites and dropping them off at people’s homes. These industries – also hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, were looking for ways to get back to work.
In order to scale-up, Cask worked with the City of LA to develop an application based on the ServiceNow Emergency Response Application (ERA), providing the additional framework based on the program’s development – and additional funding requirements – for a true public-private partnership success story.
Dietary restrictions or food allergies were built into the system functionality, and participants are matched with a restaurant or kitchen in their area, using city data to confirm delivery locations nearest to a pickup point. This allows the taxi company to bring in bulk records into their routing system, and it helps plan routes and the number of taxi drivers needed for each day.
“This program was about not only serving the senior [population], but also, to give the restaurant workers and drivers an opportunity to re-engage [with the workforce] during this crisis,” Cask’s Craig Amundson said.
A portal component allows these participants to pull the data needed to complete deliveries across the city and provides some record-keeping functionality for business as well. In the weeks following the go-live date, thousands of seniors signed up to receive meals, and hundreds of restaurant workers and taxi drivers got back to work.
As for next steps, the City of LA’s COVID-19 response is set to include rental assistance programs for residents who are out of work or unable to pay their rent due to the pandemic. Cask will continue to partner with city agencies on supporting these programs.
We’ve been very happy … having the partnership of the project or business analysis folks, along with the developers, has been good [for us],” Magos said. “[Cask] asks good questions and helps ensure that what we build is going to help us have [be] successful. With the City Meals program, it was helpful to have folks who had application development background, and they were able to build out a good data model or architecture for the application that was built out by the Cask team.”
Eduardo Magos, City of Los Angeles
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