Solving the digital divide in a deskless organization

A recap of our recent webinar on how a frontline organization solved its digital divide with the help of an employee app.

What we'll cover

The Capital District Transport Authority (CDTA) runs the public transit system in Albany, New York. They employ around 800 people.

Most of these employees are drivers and maintenance workers and CDTA was having a tough time staying in touch with them. An intranet. Seat drops. Posters. Digital screens. They tried everything. And it just wasn’t working.

For this webinar, our team sat down with CDTA’s Head of Communication, Jaime Kazlo, and Communications Manager, Emily De Vito. 


Two years after launching Blink, they talked about how they went from an ineffective internal communication strategy causing a huge digital divide to an employee app that supports digital inclusion.

The internal communication problem

Before CDTA found Blink, internal communication was a nagging problem.

They had a high proportion of frontline workers who didn’t sit behind a desk and didn’t have company-issued emails or devices. So it wasn’t easy to share company messages with them.

To communicate with office-based employees, the company was relying on an outdated intranet. For frontline employees, the main methods of communication were:

  • Noticeboards and digital screens
  • Emergency SMS
  • Word of mouth
  • Seat drop, where posters were left on a bus operator’s seat in time for their shift

But these comms were ineffective. As Jaime pointed out, “A lot of the folks that work at CDTA don’t necessarily come into the office every single day. They may get their bus out on the road. And if they do come into the office, they’re coming in and getting their work at the dispatch window and then immediately leaving”.

So employees weren’t reliably seeing posters and digital screens. They weren’t getting an awful lot of co-worker contact. And teams ended up relying on one-on-one communication, which put a lot of pressure on supervisors.

Focus group feedback made it clear to the CDTA leadership that their comms weren’t cutting through. Frontline employees were missing out on important communications. They were missing out on the fun stuff too, like competitions and giveaways.

This was creating a disconnect between employees and the organization. And it was harming the employee experience. So in 2021, CDTA decided to make a change.

They wanted to overhaul the way they did internal communications. And they needed a way to meet frontline employees where they were at.

Their CEO, says Jaime, is a champion of open communication and certainly didn’t want more than half of the organization missing out on comms. So with his support, they set out to find a solution.

"I know we’re not unique. A lot of organizations struggle with internal communication. It’s just whether or not you’re going to take that next step to really get to the employees, listen to their feedback, and give them what they need so they can also feel that they’re an integral part of the organization.” — Jaime Kazlo, Head of Communication, CDTA


Deciding on a solution

CDTA already had a SharePoint intranet, which they’d tried to revamp. This was a tool that they’d been using for several years. But it was old, outdated, and poorly maintained.

While a handful of employees chose to use the intranet, many stayed away. In fact, it had gotten to the point where comms and HR teams wouldn’t even tell staff about the intranet because they didn’t want them using it.

The intranet didn’t provide relevant information and wasn’t a good representation of the company. Crucially, it was hard for frontline employees to access.

Having gone ahead with a new and improved intranet, the team had some last-minute doubts. As the launch approached, they questioned whether they wanted to roll this tool out to the workforce.

Jaime says that, having taken the intranet as far as it could go, they were still wondering if there wasn’t something better. A tool that would improve employee communication for the whole organization.

So they took the bold decision to shelve the intranet. And started talking seriously about other options. Here’s how they decided that a modern intranet, in the form of an employee app, was the frontline-first solution they were looking for:

They got buy-in from the IT team. The IT team was integral to the process. They made sure the chosen solution was secure, sustainable, and wouldn’t compromise the company network.

They got buy-in from the union. The team worked to ensure the union president and employees would get on board with their chosen solution.  

They took a cross-functional approach. The comms team collaborated across different departments. They had conversations with everyone who had a big stake in the solution, including HR, IT, and operations. They gathered co-worker questions, found answers, and learned what each department needed from the company comms tool.

They got buy-in from the CEO. Finally, having decided that an employee app was the best solution, they made their case to the CEO, who gave the go-ahead.

“For our workforce — and the way people consume information in this day and age — it seemed archaic to stick with that intranet tool. So we decided to go to something a little bit more user-friendly and something that is pretty much in the palm of everybody’s hand every day.” — Jaime Kazlo, Head of Communication, CDTA

Buying a solution

The next step in the process was choosing app technology that suited their frontline employees and the rest of the organization.

The comms team started by, again, looping in different departments to find out what modern intranet features they needed. 

They asked marketing leaders about their branding requirements. They asked HR how they’d like to use employee information within an app. They spoke to maintenance and transportation teams about the needs of their frontline workers.

This part of the process, says Jaime, was easy. Everyone was on board. Because everyone agreed that internal communications at CDTA needed to change. And because everyone wanted largely the same things:

  • a product that was user-friendly and easy to use
  • a product that was easy to download
  • a product that allowed us to communicate daily company news
  • a product that made it easy for employees to receive emergency messages

Once internal discussions had taken place, it was time to vet solutions and choose the best software for the job.

This part of the process was led by the IT and communications teams. The IT team knew what CDTA was looking for technically — and in terms of app security. The comms team knew what tools they needed to communicate effectively with the organization.

After speaking with several vendors and viewing app demonstrations, they decided on Blink. It was a speedy process. The team started looking for a solution in January 2022 and launched Blink in June of that year.

They were able to turn this process around in just six months, says Jaime, because the team got clear on their priorities first. By getting their ducks in a row — and knowing exactly what they were looking for in an employee app —finding the right app was quick and easy.

Ensuring success

Finding the right employee app is the first part of the battle. The next? Ensuring success — in the form of employee adoption and engagement — once that app goes live.

So how did the CDTA team tackle this particular challenge? In the webinar, Emily explains what the team did before and after the launch of Blink to maximize its success.


The CDTA comms team started their pre-launch activities with a group of company leaders. They wanted to establish these people as app ambassadors. So they made sure they understood exactly what the app was for, what it could do, and how they should use it to interact with employees.

The comms team — along with the company’s new app ambassadors — started promoting the app to the wider organization about a month before it launched. They sent letters, put up posters, and advertised the app on digital screens.

Emily emphasizes the importance of speaking to people face to face, too. She and her team hosted information sessions. They also visited staff in break-out rooms, at every company location, to promote the app and field employee questions.

“[We were] letting them know — “Hey, this app is for you, it’s so you know what’s going on in our company and so you’re the first to know what’s going on in our company”.  

Contests and giveaways also helped to incentivize employees to download and use the app, both pre-launch and for about a month after. For example, the team launched the app on the first day of summer. So they had an ice cream truck come to each division and people who signed up to Blink got a free cone.


Launch done and dusted, the comms team turned their attention to sustaining app engagement levels. And encouraging late app sign-ups, too.

To achieve high levels of engagement, CDTA has focused on:

  • Creating engaging content, with input from every department
  • Being responsive to employee comments and questions
  • Using pictures and graphics to grab employee attention
  • Balancing serious content with fun content

Emily says managing the app and its content doesn’t take up her whole day. And you don’t need someone to do it 24/7.

Her role now involves asking team leaders to send her regular content. She launches surveys. And she posts at least a couple of informal, fun posts each month. That might mean highlighting a member of staff who got a promotion. Or — as CDTA did recently — posting pictures from an Exemplary Attendance Luncheon.

Employees like being able to see pictures of themselves or their teammates, says Emily. They like being recognized for their hard work. And they like being able to comment — congratulating others.

While they see better levels of engagement for fun posts, she says employees like to engage with serious content, too.

For example, CDTA recently did a safety post about cell phone usage on the road. Employees appreciated seeing it on the feed. They like being able to comment and contribute their thoughts. And these posts are a great way to get instant feedback on company policy.

Responding to resistance

CDTA doesn’t require employees to download the Blink app. So it’s up to each individual whether they choose to use it.

Emily acknowledges that some resistance is inevitable. Some employees told her that they didn’t want to see work content on their personal phones. Some simply didn’t see how Blink would benefit them.

But, says Emily, many of these employees have changed their perspectives. “Those people have now come back to me a year later, “Can you send me the invite to Blink again, I wanna download it.””

Part of CDTA’s success in getting employees to come around has been illustrating the personal benefit Blink brings to employees.

Comms team members get in the room with other employees to show them — here’s where you get your tax form, here’s where you see your pay stubs, here’s where you book vacation time.

They’ve also been using Blink’s analytics functions to see which content is working best. By seeing when and where employees are interacting, the team can hone content to make it even more relevant and engaging.

A majority of employees, says Emily, have seen the value of being able to do so much from their smartphones. And now — two years after the launch — adoption is at 80%, just shy of the company’s 85% target, which they hope to meet soon.


The webinar ended with a Q&A session. Jaime and Emily provided answers to viewer questions. Here’s a summary of what they discussed.  

Do you allow employee comments on the app? And, if so, how do you manage them?

Allowing comments, says Emily, is essential for two-way communication. And the comments they get on the CDTA feed are mostly positive and primarily question-based.

Negative comments, when they do occur, are seen as a jumping-off point.

When the conversation feels constructive, leaders and managers can respond in the app. Alternatively, they go into Blink’s chat feature to say they’re happy to discuss an employee issue in person — and then set up a meeting.

While the admin team can delete comments, Emily says they would only do this if a comment contained profanity or something vulgar. And, thankfully, in two years of using the app, this is a problem they’ve yet to encounter.

It helps that openness is part of CDTA culture. And that company leaders understand that it solves more problems than it creates. 

“We have a CEO who is very transparent. He wants to know what the workforce is thinking. He wants them to know what he’s thinking[…]If you’re not transparent it brings up more questions and it creates more angst within your company because people are saying “Why aren’t they answering me” “Why are they being secretive?”.” — Emily De Vito, Communications Manager, CDTA

How do you work alongside your union when rolling out an employee app?

CDTA has a unionized workforce. So it was important for them to work in lockstep with the union president during the whole process — from solution scoping to app launch and beyond.

The comms team made a real effort, says Jaime, to explain to the union why they were implementing the app and to help them understand where they were coming from.

There were some employee concerns about how an app might invade their privacy. But we made it clear that the one and only purpose of the app was to make all employees feel included within the organization.

Now that the app is up and running, Emily highlights the importance of the union president having a profile and using the app. And knowing they can get in touch with the communications team when they want to send a union-related message out to the workforce. 

How do you enforce a cell phone policy when you have an employee app?

So you’re promoting a cell phone app. But you have a cell phone policy that means employees shouldn’t be looking at their phones during certain workday hours. What do you do?

For Jaime and Emily, it’s all about education and helping employees understand app features, like Blink’s snooze function.

Employees can set a do-not-disturb function to run automatically during particular times. This means they can pause notifications during work or driving hours. They can then pull out their cell phone during a break or when they’re back at home. 

How does an employee app work for team members without a smartphone?

There are very few employees at CDTA, says Jaime, who don’t have a smartphone. These tend to be older employees who aren’t necessarily very tech-savvy.

For these employees, the company has computers in break rooms. These computers are equipped with Blink’s desktop version. And they’re a way for employees who don’t have a phone — or who don’t want to download the app — to check in with their account and company news.

Does each employee have a profile? How do you manage those?

Every employee has their own app profile. They can upload a picture to this profile. But employees don’t have admin capabilities and they can’t edit anything else.

When it comes to creating profiles, the CDTA comms team worked with the HR team to import employee data. The app integrates with most HR software, so profiles can be added and removed automatically.

You can set up a profile with very basic information, including name, location, and job title. You also need an email address or a phone number so the employee can receive an invite to download Blink.

But you have the potential to refine these profiles. Emily is currently working with the CDTA on segmenting employees. She’s working out which employees should be grouped together so they can send the most relevant comms to each individual.

So there you have it. A summary of our webinar — and of CDTA’s journey from a clunky old intranet to a modern employee app.


Book A Demo Today

Get the only update with the latest news, insight and opinions for frontline champions: meet The Shift.

By submitting this form, you agree to be contacted about Blink's Products and Services. For more information, see our Privacy Policy.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Solving the digital divide in a deskless organization

Catch up on our recent webinar featuring CDTA

Watch Webinar

Solving the digital divide in a deskless organization

Catch up on our recent webinar featuring CDTA

Watch Webinar

Solving the digital divide in a deskless organization

Catch up on our recent webinar featuring CDTA

Watch Webinar

Solving the digital divide in a deskless organization

Catch up on our recent webinar featuring CDTA

Watch Webinar

The essential guide to executive buy-in for frontline employee experience

Read more about getting executives on board with frontline worker engagement in our guide.

Download Resource

The essential guide to executive buy-in for frontline employee experience

Read more about getting executives on board with frontline worker engagement in our guide.

Download Resource

The essential guide to executive buy-in for frontline employee experience

Read more about getting executives on board with frontline worker engagement in our guide.

Download Resource

The essential guide to executive buy-in for frontline employee experience

Read more about getting executives on board with frontline worker engagement in our guide.

Download Resource

Want to see how Blink can transform your intranet experience?

Schedule a personalized demo with our team today

Book A Demo

Want to see how Blink can transform your intranet experience?

Schedule a personalized demo with our team today

Book A Demo

Want to see how Blink can transform your intranet experience?

Schedule a personalized demo with our team today

Book A Demo

Want to see how Blink can transform your intranet experience?

Schedule a personalized demo with our team today

Book A Demo