City of San Antonio Deploys Financial Assistance App to Speed Relief to Citizens Impacted by Coronavirus Pandemic
- Seventh-largest U.S. city saw tidal wave of applications for rental, mortgage, utility and re-location assistance as a result of pandemic
- Low-code application development platform enabled process to be fully digitized in less than two weeks; now, residents can apply for aid using an application on their phones or computers, from home or work
- San Antonio succeeds in rushing millions of dollars to residents in dire straits
- Mendix is offering a free 90-day software license to city, state, and local governments around the world facing similar challenges; Partner Kinetech offering subsidized packages to accelerate time to value
BOSTON – May 13, 2020 — The City of San Antonio, Texas, has created an application, using the Mendix low-code platform, to accelerate the delivery of much-needed emergency housing aid to citizens impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The new application brings the entire process online for rental, mortgage, utility, and relocation assistance, replacing a time-consuming manual process. Less than a day after deployment, residents initiated over 1,100 applications via the new app; during peak demand, the application has handled intake of more than 3,000 applications in a single day. Based on current allocations, the City of San Antonio’s Neighborhood & Housing Services Department (NHSD) will process, approve, and distribute more than $25 million in emergency assistance via the new app.
San Antonians’ need for financial housing assistance spiked rapidly in March when the pandemic triggered state-wide shutdown orders, causing widespread business closures and subsequent job losses. Applications for assistance skyrocketed from an average of less than 60 per week to over 2,000 per week. The situation at the NHSD quickly became critical as the sudden rush of applications overwhelmed the existing manual process. Without rapid help, residents faced imminent risk of eviction from their homes or having their utilities turned off.
App built and relief funds flowing in less than two weeks
With a first round of $14 million of emergency funds approved and applicants anxiously waiting to receive aid, San Antonio recognized the fastest way to disburse relief funds was to immediately move the process fully online. City officials passed an emergency amendment allocating funds to create a cloud-based tool and enrolled the support of Kinetech, a Texas-based provider of custom enterprise software, to digitize the existing manual system.
“As we faced a global pandemic and the increasing volume of applications for housing assistance, we knew that there was a better way to keep up with the demand of processing applications,” said Edward Gonzales, assistant director for the City of San Antonio’s Neighborhood & Housing Services Department. “We had previously worked with Kinetech in 2018 to build a utility assistance application for the city, so they already had the right security credentials, tools, skill-set, and agile processes in place to build this application.
“Within 12 days, the two-person development team built the new application and successfully deployed it. In less than a week, more than $2.2 million in assistance was requested. With the help of Kinetech and Mendix, our process is now fully digital, and our case workers can quickly provide feedback and help prevent residents from becoming homeless.”
Process fully digitized, plus an added benefit
City residents previously applied online or in person — which became impossible during the lock-down — and had to follow up with supporting documentation separately, which often presented a challenge. Now, applicants can submit the entire application digitally 24/7 from their homes. Importantly, the application also includes the opportunity to report domestic abuse, which is automatically flagged for case workers. While reporting of abuse was offered on the paper applications, there was no way to automatically flag the notification, resulting in delayed responses.
Kinetech and the City of San Antonio built the new application in just 12 days using Mendix, the leading enterprise low-code application development platform. Low-code is a visual development approach that enables developers of varied experience levels to quickly create applications for web and mobile, using drag-and-drop components and model-driven logic.
“Everything we have done with low-code solutions has delivered on the promise,” said Chief Technology Officer Kevin Goodwin of the City of San Antonio. “As opportunities for digital solutions arise, we lean toward the low-code platforms. Part of it is planning for the workforce of the future – we need to pivot the tools we use to make ourselves relevant for new generations of developers and the tools and delivery methods they understand.”
Michael Guido, CEO of Kinetech, said, “Through Kinetech’s strong relationship with the City, we were able to quickly understand the challenges San Antonians are facing and develop a bilingual, English-Spanish solution to serve our most vulnerable citizens. The application uses responsive design, so it works well on any kind of device — phone, tablet, or computer — which can help bridge the digital divide for residents who have limited access to the internet. We deployed a minimum viable product in eight business days, co-developing with the city’s business and IT teams every step of the way.
Mendix Offers Free 90-Day License to Municipalities
Recognizing the need of other local jurisdictions to provide emergency assistance to their citizens in the U.S. and around the world, Mendix is offering a free, 90-day license of its low-code application development platform to local government entities around the world facing similar challenges, so they can quickly build and deploy their own applications to help people. Partner Kinetech will provide discounted expert development services if needed.
Mendix’s low-code platform offers the public sector fast and secure ways to build a variety of applications to better serve people including:
- Portals to submit requests for service or financial assistance with speed and transparency
- Native mobile solutions with features such as offline access and biometric identification to provide users the seamless experience they are accustomed to
- Digital communication tools to reduce dependency on in-person or phone interactions
- Workflow applications to streamline internal project management
- Automated aggregation of data to support business decisions using various metrics from budget management to service usage trends
“We are honored to be on the team helping the City of San Antonio assist a greater number of its residents in need during this unsettling time,” said Ben Mohlie, global director of alliances at Mendix. “We want to support as many government and municipal agencies as possible to respond to this crisis, so we are offering free 90-day licenses to those who need to build similar solutions for their residents in a hurry. There’s no faster platform to build robust, scalable enterprise-grade applications without making any compromises. And the same advantages Mendix brings to crisis development — speed, collaboration, control — it brings to strategic digitalization initiatives as well.”
For more information about Mendix’s offering of a free 90-day license that is paired with discounted implementation services from partner Kinetech, please visit: https://www.mendix.com/city-of-san-antonio/
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