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Government-Citizen Engagement: Abt’s VOICE Solution

July 21, 2021

The need for governments at all levels to connect with citizens they serve and the means for doing so have evolved over the past decade. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend as interacting directly with people wherever they are, regardless of circumstance, is vital to the success of a range of government programs, services, and campaigns.

Government agencies need robust contact systems and processes to connect with citizens in a continuous, multiple-channel, two-way stream of communication and information flow. This capability is critical whether the government is providing information about child and family well-being services or conducting interviews to obtain insights into health needs and concerns. It’s important when standing up support desks and other services or fielding self-reports of vaccination status and potential side effects. Governments must meet citizens where they are, be it through enhanced person-to-person contact or via completely virtual communication channels (so important for millennials and younger demographics).

Abt developed our Virtual Omnichannel Integrated Citizen Engagement (VOICE) solution  for just such purposes. An interconnected eco-system of skilled people and cloud-based technologies, it facilitates two-way communication with citizens across a range of channels and media, including mobile apps, web, text, video, email, telephone, traditional mail, and even in-person. This combination of human intelligence and advanced technological solutions maximizes operational efficiency while ensuring high quality information that positions agencies for success.   

Our people include highly skilled contact agents, interviewers, supervisors, and quality control staff teamed with our world-recognized scientists and technical experts in surveys, statistics, digital technologies, health, education, child and family welfare, housing, and the like. Because our system and underlying technology are cloud-based, we can hire any required skillset anywhere in the United States.

The Abt VOICE ecosystem of interconnected platforms supports efforts of all sizes and can scale easily, enabling agencies to conduct everything from small targeted outreach to  large, complex surveys. We provide inbound and outbound help-desk support for the thousands of citizens who need assistance or information about government programs and services. We also can design, develop, implement, and manage more robust on-going two-way communications over time, such as working with individuals to collect information and help them navigate issues they may experience in obtaining health care, housing, or food services.

This ecosystem connects multiple technology platforms such as those for complex survey research efforts (e.g., Confirmit and REDCap), inbound communication systems (e.g., Sytel), and platforms for mobile apps, web-based portals, sophisticated interactive voice response (IVR), email, and SMS text response.

Clients use Abt’s VOICE across a range of complex contact needs. Some recent examples include:

  • Conducting more inclusive, self-administered web-based public health surveillance surveys using address-based sampling methods (ABS) by providing alternate modes for survey completion to households without access to, and households not comfortable with web-based technologies.
  • Recruiting hard-to-reach populations into a longitudinal study via SMS messages sent to cell phone numbers associated with physical address samples.
  • Understanding the health impacts of potential environmental chemical exposures by fielding calls, texts, and emails from citizens in affected areas; conducting screening interviews; establishing appointments for respondents to meet with health care professionals, then sending reminder texts and emails.
  • Conducting on-going community health studies via self-paced web surveys or outbound interviewer-conducted surveys while screening and facilitating the collection of biospecimens such as urine, buccal swabs, or blood samples.
  • Facilitating large government workforce demonstration programs, helping to assess the impacts of potential program changes, serving as an information hub for participants to submit regularly required data via email, telephone, or fax, and responding to questions or concerns citizens have about program participation.
  • Contributing to our understanding of the long-term impacts of COVID-19 by reaching out to pregnant women who volunteered via a vaccine effectiveness program to be contacted, interviewed, and then followed over time to report any health concerns about themselves or their child.

Abt’s VOICE provides holistic solutions for government-citizen engagement and the critical, multiple channels of  two-way communication between the two. It brings together the people, the expertise, and the technologies required to collect valid and reliable information, respond to questions and queries, and facilitate information exchange with people by tailoring the process to citizens’ needs. Abt is one of the only companies to take such a comprehensive view and provide such an integrated solution. In short, Abt VOICE is the future of government-citizen engagement.

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