The Digital Agency for International Development

Helping more people with automated phone registration

By Elly Boulboul on 13 December 2016

Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF), Center for Employment Training (CET), the Santa Clara County Citizenship Collaborative and the New Americans Campaign have assisted thousands of individuals in gaining US citizenship. They do this by holding events in the San Francisco Bay Area. Needing help to manage this, they came to us for a technical solution. We have enabled them to cope with higher numbers of attendees and help more people gain access to citizenship advice.

Event registration by phone and web


Event registrations were handled by phone. People would call, leave a message and get a call back confirming their registration for the event. When hundreds of people called for the Citizenship Day 2015 event, the agencies did not have the capacity to call everyone back. It was difficult to plan for an event; to know what number of people would arrive, what the language needs would be and what resources to provide. 

The Solution

We have developed a service called e-immigrate that allows people to register for events. Users can do this online using a form on a website, or by calling a configurable, automated phone-line. Both are available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.


Thousands of people have registered through the service, and the workload to deal with registrants is now manageable. Participating agencies can see who has registered. This allows them to arrange for the right number of volunteers and lawyers, with the right language skills, at each event. The largest event held so far was in April 2016 where 1300+ people registered for the event using the automated phone line. 1100 people received reminder texts and approximately 1400 people attended the event. 506 individuals received screening for eligibility and 314 left with completed applications.

Organisations that use e-immigrate are now able to plan the resources needed at events. Here’s the registration report for an event held in September 2016. It shows the number of people registered for each session that day, and what their language needs are.

E-immigrate is also flexible. It can assist with other types of events:

‘e-immigrate turned out to be a huge success! This was the first time that we used the system in a non-workshop setting. It was a forum where leaders of the community gave information to the public in regards to the election results and its impact on immigrants.‘ - Raquel Brown (CET)

Real time data collection


SVCF and CET wanted to collect data to help them evaluate their target audience and determine the number of people assisted at each event. Their original paper-only process made it hard to analyze an event’s success. It was difficult to check progress over time, and to share results with other organisations and stakeholders. They were also concerned about maintaining confidentiality, and making sure events ran smoothly.

The Solution

We created a data-collection tool that works on mobile, tablets and desktops. It lets organisers control access for volunteers who enter data at events. The data is entered alongside their current paper process. Making sure confidential information is not recorded electronically. This also meant that the existing process only needed a few changes.


Monica Limas and Raquel Brown from CET participated in our agile process which quickly enabled them to test a working system at real events. Learning from the results of those tests, we adapted and improved the tool until it was ready to be used widely. At their event in September, CET entered data about the individuals attending the event which fed into the report below. This is useful information that helps them judge the events success and plan for future events.