The Open Referral Initiative is developing an ecosystem of free, open source tools that can help communities produce, share and use community resource directory data.
The Human Service Data Specification (HSDS): AKA ‘the Open Referral format,’ the HSDS is a data interchange format that enables resource directory data to be published in bulk for use by many systems. HSDS provides a common vocabulary for information about services, the organizations that provide them, and the locations where they can be accessed. HSDS was initially drafted by Sophia Parafina, and is now under the stewardship of the Open Data Services Cooperative. It is currently at v1.1, with testing underway in various pilot projects; we welcome feedback to set our agenda for future upgrades toward v2.0. [Documentation site; Frequently Asked Questions. Github repo;]
The Human Service Data API (HSDA): The Human Service Data API suite consist of machine-readable protocols for managing resource directory data. Using the HSDA OpenAPI specifications, any resource directory database can be transformed into an interoperable open platform. [Human Service Data API repo; live documentation site (redeployable as a developer portal)]
Link-SF: Built by Zendesk in San Francisco, and redeployable as open source software, Link is a mobile-friendly front-end resource browsing tool that works with the Human Service Data API protocols and has been redeployed in multiple communities. [Open Referral fork of Link]
Ohana Web Search: As part of Code for America’s Ohana API package, Ohana Web Search is a front-end interface that displays content via the Ohana API. The interface is purposefully simple (“I need…”), and the application is easy to deploy and free to use and modify. [See Github repo; live deployment in San Mateo County.]
HelpSteps: Built by the Boston Children’s Hospital, Helpsteps is an open source mobile app that works with the Open Referral format. [Github repo]
Open Referral Playground: developed by volunteer Chris Spiliotopoulos (@spilio) to aid with data validation, bulk packaging, and more. Still in experimental mode. [Github repo]
NEXT: The Toolkit – In the course of initial testing and evaluation, our lead stakeholders have identified the need for tools that can enable collaborative production and validation of resource data. (Including the ability to: synthesize data from multiple sources of varying trustworthiness; receive and validate user-submitted updates; resolve and sync conflicting records through a workflow process; track history and source of edits, and enable user discussion about fields and records; assign varying levels of editing ability to users; etc.) We’re currently identifying opportunities to prototype these features. Please reach out with questions or suggestions. [Read more.]
- Discuss and contribute in the Open Referral Github organization .
- Read our public documentation.
- Join the Open Referral community group.
Image credit: Icons from thenounproject.com. Robot by Simon Child; Wrench by P.J. Onori; Tools by Alban Champliau