We connect directly with Californians to improve state services. Here’s some of the work the Office of Data and Innovation (ODI) has done.
Helping more eligible families enroll in CalWORKs
CalWORKs is a major safety net program. There’s a gap between people eligible for benefits and those who get them. ODI explored why the gap exists. We interviewed applicants to learn what it’s like applying for CalWORKs. We also talked to program staff to hear what it’s like to run the program. We found pain points that stop families from getting the benefits they deserve.
Lifting Californians’ voices in toxic substance cleanup project decisions
The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) oversees cleanup projects across the state. They use comments from the public when deciding how to clean up sites. Most projects get only a few comments. DTSC asked ODI to explore how to reach people who don’t usually comment. ODI ran pilots to test new ways of reaching Californians. After making a few key changes, we got 600% more comments.
Getting compensation to more California crime victims
California Victims Compensation Board (CalVCB) noticed a puzzling trend. Despite a rise in violent crimes, fewer victims applied for compensation. CalVCB asked ODI to find out why. Their goal was to get more applications. For 6 weeks, ODI talked with victims and those who support them. We used this research and best practices in design to find ways to make it easier to apply.
Vaccine sentiment analytics
When supplies were limited, officials wanted to get vaccines in arms fast. With equity as a top concern, we built a vaccine sentiment model to send limited resources where they were most needed. This model used the Healthy Places Index and digital surveys on the state’s most-visited websites. We found areas with low vaccination rates, but high interest in getting vaccinated. This resulted in more equitable distribution of vaccines across California.
Californians needed a trusted resource for information during the pandemic. We launched the first version of covid19.ca.gov in 5 days to be a source of truth. It showed the state what a best practice website could look like, even though we made it in the middle of a crisis. Over the next 2 years, we made dozens of major changes based on user feedback. One major update was a new data dashboard delivery method. This helped charts perform better on all devices. We reduced load times from 70 seconds to 4. Our innovations made the site one of the fastest and most accessible websites on CA.gov.
California Design System
The California Design System solves common website problems. Its reusable components and patterns make state websites more consistent. Real world testing allows departments to use them with confidence. Code comes from past projects like:
Feedback from the public drives improvements. Every time we update, we test for performance and accessibility. Teams can upgrade components on their own to fit their needs. We launched the Design System in partnership with the California Department of Technology (CDT). We continue to collaborate with CDT. This will promote these best practices across the state.
You can’t improve services if you don’t know what people need. The page feedback tool lets the public share their thoughts with the teams who serve them. We created it for covid19.ca.gov. It’s now on several state websites. If you’re interested in using page feedback, reach out through the California Design System Contact us page.
Accessibility and performance
At least 10% of Californians have some form of disability. We go beyond WCAG standards to design services that work better for everyone. We write at a grade 6 reading levels so it’s easier for everyone to understand our content. We make sure our services work well on most devices, not just new smartphones.
How we choose projects
Our evaluation criteria considers things like:
- Is this service critical to the lives of Californians?
- Does it impact large or underserved populations?
- How many state entities are involved in the service?
- Can our work on this service be applied to other services?
- What previous efforts can we build on?
If you’re interested in working with ODI, we’d love to hear from you.