How cheap, incremental innovation helps where it matters most

No robots or lasers here: digital transformation doesn’t have to be big and flashy to make a difference, says Code for Australia head Alvaro Maz. Simple, labour-saving innovations allow resources to be used elsewhere.

A semi-automated SMS reminder system is probably not what comes to mind when you hear the word ‘innovation’, but a new app developed for Victoria Legal Aid demonstrates the value of such incremental technological improvements.

Each person at legal aid who deals with clients used to have to send out individual reminders for upcoming appointments. Through its fellowship program, Code for Victoria created an app that partially automates the process of texting clients, pulling information from various calendars to populate pre-determined messages on an interface where admin staff can see all the appointments for a day and send all the messages at once, instead of individually. It’s estimated to have led to an 83% decrease in time spent texting clients.

“People who were waiting to get legal aid help can potentially get legal aid help quicker. Lawyers can focus on working with clients,” explains Code for Australia co-founder and managing director Alvaro Maz.

The Code for Victoria fellowship program, a collaboration between the Victorian government and Code for Australia to pair up technology experts with public purpose organisations, is also working on an app with Victoria Legal Aid to direct people to the right place before they make contact.

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