Citizen services should serve the bottom 5 percent — and everyone else

There are a lot of underserved citizens in Santa Clara County, California, according to the local government’s chief information officer. But, Ann Dunkin tells StateScoop in a recent interview, it’s also important to build new digital services that make life easier for everyone else.

“We’ve got a lot of at-risk people in our community,” Dunkin says. “Something around 5 percent of the people in Santa Clara County use most of our services. Those are people who use health care services from our public hospital, use the safety net provided by social services and who interact with our law enforcement community.”

One of the county’s goals is to use data to reduce the amount of resources that minority consumes, she says. Reducing recidivism, for instance, she says, is an important priority for the county.

Conversely, Dunkin says, the remaining 95 percent who don’t need the social safety net as often still have ways that their lives can be improved by their local government.

“We want to find ways to make paying your property taxes more convenient, to make it easier for people to make reservations at our parks, to find ways to learn about services in the county,” Dunkin says. “So all those services that the rest of the folks use, we want to make easy and convenient and helpful for them.”

Dunkin on how government is changing:

“The way that government really needs to change is to become more citizen centered and to become more digital. That’s why just like all technology businesses, all government is going to be about technology going forward.”

Dunkin on California’s unique approach to technology:

“The interesting thing about California is the ultimate size of the state. California would be the fifth largest economy in the world if it were a country.”

Dunkin on different levels of government working together:

“EPA co-regulates with the states and local entities and it’s a unique situation where we had shared responsibility. That’s a great model for how the rest of government should work.”

This video was filmed at the California Innovation Summit on January 15, 2019, presented by VMware, Intel and Carahsoft and produced by StateScoop.