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Reducing Poverty With Digital Service Delivery (Tech)


The Arizona State University Smart City Cloud Innovation Center Powered by AWS (ASU CIC) recently collaborated with the Northeastern Arizona Community Resource Network (NACRN) to explore digital service delivery solutions to support social service agencies in reducing poverty.

NACRN and other agencies, that work with people in need, often don’t have easy access to all of the information they need to help as quickly and effectively as they would like. Working together the CIC and NACRN envisioned innovative data solutions and software to help front line case workers have more actionable information to help people on the journey to end their poverty.    


Arizona is currently the fastest growing state in the US with a robust economy and people moving daily to Maricopa County and the Greater Phoenix region. This tremendous growth and opportunity has helped some people rise up, but also greatly impacted others as housing prices and the cost of living increase dramatically. 

The economic opportunities have also not reached the rural areas of the state, especially the Native American reservations that experience high levels of unemployment and poverty. 

Today, case management is heavily dependent on the people providing the services. Success can vary based on the tenure and knowledge of the staff. Do they know the system, who to call, and how to access services? Success is dependent on having complete information on clients and resources.


NACRN contacted the CIC to present their idea for a challenge to reduce poverty.

Using a working backwards workshop, NACRN, its stakeholders, and partners explored the problem of social service delivery and the role of the case managers and other staff on the front lines working with clients. 

A key element of the success of the workshop was the diverse group of stakeholders participating. NACRN convened to bring deep expertise and diverse perspectives on the problem, the customer, and possible solutions. 

The workshop identified a solution to address the problem by developing a robust data platform to integrate data from various sources and a user software interface to make that data easily accessible to case managers. NACRN believes that developing this application will be more effective and useful than an “off the shelf” solution.

By creating a solution tailor made to meet the needs of local organizations working across the state to help clients escape poverty, NACRN will be able to drive unified adoption of a single solution and ideally encourage the State to act on implementing the solution. 

Supporting Artifacts

The Amazon Working Backwards process produces three artifacts - a Press Release, a list of Frequently Asked Questions and a Visual depiction of the user experience. You can find the Digital Service Delivery artifacts here:

NACRN Press Release and FAQ NACRN Press Release
Visual  NACRN Visual
NACRN Case Study NACRN Case Study


Next Steps

The project team completed the prototype in May of 2020.  The code to run the NACRN prototype solution, including a list of software prerequisites and startup development steps, is available at the ASU CIC Github repo below:


About the ASU CIC

The ASU Smart Cities Cloud Innovation Center (CIC) is a strategic relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is supported by AWS on ASU’s Innovation campus - SkySong. The mission of the CIC is to drive Innovation Challenges that materially benefit the greater Phoenix metro area and beyond. The CIC will do this by solving pressing community and regional challenges, using shareable and repeatable technology solutions from ideation through prototype, as a service for the greater human good.

The CIC also provides real-world problem-solving experiences to students by immersing them in the application of proven innovation methods in combination with the latest technologies to solve important challenges in the public sector. 

The challenges being addressed cover a wide variety of topics including homelessness, water conservation, vandalism, pedestrian safety, digital service delivery and many others. The CIC leverages the deep subject matter expertise of government, education and non-profit organizations to clearly understand the customers affected by public sector challenges and develops solutions that meet the customer needs.

For more information on the ASU CIC, to read about projects or to submit a challenge, please visit https://smartchallenges.asu.edu.