I\u2019ve always loved dogs. Some of my first memories are with family pets, and many of them (the memories and the pets) are hilarious.\n\n\nOthers are sad. Like when my dad, at his wits end, took my dog Beau to the pound. Beau had jumped the fence one too many times. That\u2019s when I learned what animal shelters do to dogs. Throughout my life I\u2019ve adopted, rescued, fostered and advocated on behalf of homeless animals. As my friends and family (and neighbors, and people in line at Starbucks, and the guy at my shoe repair) can tell you, I\u2019m pretty adamant about pet adoption.\n\n\nBut only after I began volunteering at some of L.A.\u2019s high-kill shelters did I start to comprehend what could be. Many shelters are run by good people who are trying to manage a system in which supply exceeds demand. Many are also dirty, loud, underfunded, short-staffed, often managed by overwhelmed public servants with little leadership training, and poorly measured.\n\n\nWhen I volunteer I see long lines of people waiting to adopt a pet. When it\u2019s their turn, they are asked to complete paper-based forms in triplicate, sign liability waivers, be interviewed, and wait until someone is available to show them a dog or cat. It\u2019s a bureaucracy, reliant on paper-based processes and outdated information. Shelter staff spend more time at filing cabinets than at cages. The phrase \u201ctake a number and be seated\u201d is still alive and well at public shelters \u2014 as are \u201cWe don\u2019t have anyone who can show you the animal\u201d and \u201cSorry, that one\u2019s been put to sleep.\u201d Many potential adopters leave shelters frustrated or worse, empty-handed.\n\n\nThis is where technology comes in. By entering the digital age \u2014 think doggie dashboards, real-time data feeds, and master data management for the canine set \u2014 and making information publicly available, shelters can save more lives. They can match animals to likely adopters, stem owner turn-ins through intervention and temporary foster programs, deploy low-cost spay and neuter services to ZIP codes with the highest surrender rates, and perform more targeted outreach based on public demographics and preferences.\n\n\nI have done extensive ROI analysis on how applying digital technologies to the public shelter system can drive smarter workforce management, redistribute animals to lower-kill shelters with empty cages, predict adoptability, reduce or eliminate paper-based processes, and dramatically decrease euthanasia rates. Most public shelters still do this work manually, if they do it at all. The potential for automation to drive economies and accelerate animal save rates is indisputable. And there are shelters out there that would love to have those capabilities.\n\n\n\t\n\tJill Dyche\tJill Dyche's dog Ozzie, in a shelter in Baldwin Park, Calif., in 2011, waiting to be adopted by Jill.\n\n\n\nThe opportunity to digitize for social good isn\u2019t exclusive to animal shelters. Technology can be used for ensuring clean water in poor communities, reducing opioid abuse through targeted intervention and curtailing rampant incarceration rates, to name a few public-sector efforts currently powered by data.\n\n\nAt a recent Strata conference in New York, DJ Patil, country\u2019s first chief data scientist, introduced The Opportunity Project, an open data effort aimed at sharing information with civic leaders, teachers and other community members to drive access to services and encourage community engagement.\n\n\n\u201cAlways focus on the individual,\u201d Patil told the audience. \u201cThere\u2019s a social contract companies have with citizens, and vice versa. By understanding and using rich and available data, we can drive social change.\u201d\n\n\nIt\u2019s a new era of case management \u2014 whether the case represents a citizen, a customer, a patient or your new family pet \u2014 and technology will be its salvation.