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COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) for Staff Resources

Digital Update: Digital forms, internet access, and more!

Posted on April 24, 2020


COVID-19 webpage

Digital Forms

Over the past couple of weeks Digital worked with volunteers from the U.S. Digital Response to tackle the challenges that paper-based processes cause when the City’s workforce moved to work remotely in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the City’s internal departments including Human Resources and Finance operate with paper-based processes especially as it relates to the filling and signing of forms.

The project included:

  • User interviews with Human Resources, Finance, and other City staff who fill out and process forms;
  • An audit of existing internal forms used City-wide;
  • A review of existing technology systems to help automate paper-processes and approvals.

Some of our initial findings include:

  • Many forms have a confusing user experience. Instructions are either not included or exist on separate documents; and people often don’t know how to fill out certain fields.
  • Current processes require manual steps and a paper-heavy process. Waiting for signatures can cause delays and there’s a lot of printing and scanning.
  • Many people have created workarounds and these have both good and bad consequences.

Real-time during this project, we created two electronic forms: the telework agreement and the Families First Act leave request. We also developed a multi-phase action plan that includes converting paper forms to Adobe PDFs, adding instructions to forms, developing secure electronic signature processes, and exploring workflow solutions that will allow us to automate more complex approvals for paperwork. Moving forward we will be collaborating with the Learning Lab’s Paperless Forms Team as well as Human Resources and Finance to develop new solutions for remote work.


Canal Internet Access

We are making progress on expanding internet access in the Canal neighborhood. We are still waiting for a delivery of 150 T-Mobile mifis. As soon as they arrive we will quickly create an inventory and then will work with San Rafael City Schools to distribute them to students.

We also worked with MarinNet to boost the wifi signal at the Pickleweed Library, in line with other libraries and most schools across the County. While it’s a less than ideal situation, students are able to access the internet from within vehicles in the parking lots of these facilities.

We are continuing to refine a concept of creating a mesh wifi network for students in the Canal neighborhood. We have formed two subcommittees (funding/policy & technical) and are working closely with the County, San Rafael City Schools, Canal Alliance, as well as volunteers from the community. This is an exciting project that could not just make a difference now but have a lasting impact in the neighborhood.

Another program we are keeping tabs on that is being deployed in many places across the country are buses equipped with hotspots. Once we have a better sense of the effectiveness of our current efforts, we may investigate that in more detail, although parking in the Canal will definitely present a challenge to that option.


EOC PIO Continues Support

Last week, we overhauled the COVID-19 web pages. Modeled largely after the San Francisco’s COVID-19 webpages, we added new content written in clear and simple language. The main sections now help people quickly find information about how to stay healthy, get help, how to help, and resources for businesses.

  • Our Stay Healthy page leads with simple reminders to stay 6 feet apart, avoid groups, cover your face, and of course, wash your hands.
  • The How to Help page now features a Neighbor to Neighbor toolkit, initiated by Kate Colin.
  • The Frequently Asked Questions on the FAQ page were reviewed and updated, new questions and answers were added, and a few, now obsolete, were removed altogether.
  • Looking to find out what City services are still active, modified, or suspended? We’ve got you covered. Check out the City Services Modifications page to learn about infrastructure maintenance, parking citations, permits, wildfire prevention, and more.

It’s amazing how far good, simple design goes. Do you remember the posters and flyers we created to help dispel myths and correct misinformation? Well, they have been well received! Requests for reprints and distribution continue, and the County of Marin requested digital copies to print on their own for posting across Marin.

We’ve installed English and Spanish signage on A-frames throughout areas in San Rafael where people typically congregate.

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