New Philanthropy Capital: Joining the Dots

Last October, I had the opportunity to visit London and spend some time learning about the UK social sector, at events such as the excellent NPC Ignites conference. On this trip, I was impressed by people’s sense of pride in the country’s long history of public service provision. But I also heard clear notes of anxiety about the present and future of the sector, given converging trends such as budget cuts and privatisation. Continue reading

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Annual Review wrap-up: the path ahead

In 2014, we formed a table and conducted research. In 2015, we initiated action. In 2016, we’ll put these ideas to the test, and learn from our work. Based on your feedback so far, here’s what that might look like…

(This note is far from a final word on the matter — please share your own feedback in our community forum and/or directly via email. Thanks for your insights!) Continue reading

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2015 in Review: who’s doing what, where and why

In the last blog post, we discussed the different technological products that have emerged through Open Referral. [See our entire 2015 Year in Review here.]

In this post, we’ll discuss the different projects in which people are using these tools to find new ways to share and use information about the health, human, and social services available to people in need. Continue reading

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2015 In Review: Much Progress and Many Thanks

As we wrap up 2015, I’ve taken a moment to review our progress over the course of the year. It’s been a long journey with lots of moving pieces, and I’m so inspired by the many people who are playing roles of all kinds in this collective effort to reimagine a safety net for the 21st century. I’ve summarized these developments in this “2015 Year In Review” report. Over the course of upcoming posts, I’ll unpack the components of this report in greater detail.

In the meantime, I want to use the final moments of 2015 to give thanks to (some of!) the many people who have made this work possible over the past year…

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Data for Good Exchange: a new paper with an old concept

In late September I had the privilege to discuss our work at the Data for Good Exchange, a symposium hosted by Bloomberg.

As part of the event, I presented a paper which you can read here.

Much of the paper recaps the thinking and work behind the Open Referral initiative to date…. Then, taking into account some of the lessons we’ve learned over the past year, I editorialize a bit. Continue reading

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New Partnerships up North: Open Referral in Canada

[UPDATE: The Ontario Non-Profit Network has posted its ‘Data Strategy,’ which specifically references the emerging partnerships described below. Check it out!]

Canada is an international leader in the field of open data, especially in the non-profit sector. The Canadian Revenue Agency was the first government entity of its kind to publish open, machine-readable data about the charity sector, including every gift made by foundations and charitable funds. Above and beyond this step, Canada’s open data portals — local, provincial, and federal — have been publishing vast amounts of data, including directory information about human services.

This is why it’s especially exciting to announce our new partnership between PoweredbyData and Open Referral. (See PoweredbyData’s announcement here.)….

We’re also pleased to share here that Ontario 211 will begin testing the publication of their resource database (which spans the entire province) in the Human Service Data Specification (aka the Open Referral format) over the course of the summer. This will pose a unique opportunity for public and civic initiatives — in the information-and-referral sector and beyond — to experiment with innovative new ways to share and deliver resource data for service delivery, research and analysis. Continue reading

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Huertas de Datos: Open Referral in Madrid

Early last month, I traveled to Madrid to discuss the community resource directory data problem, and our work here in the Open Referral initiative, at the commencement of a civic hacking workshop hosted by Medialab-Prado.

Medialab-Prado is a publicly-funded “citizen laboratory for the production, research and dissemination of cultural projects that explore collaborative forms of experimentation and learning that have emerged from digital networks.”

And it’s a beautiful space, too 🙂

Given that frame of the workshop was ‘Commoning Data,’ I felt like this was an invitation I shouldn’t pass up. Continue reading

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Open Referral all over: hacks at Code Across and Open Data Day

Last month, during International Open Data Day — which coincided with Code for America’s CodeAcross activities throughout the weekend of February 20-22nd — hundreds of civic hacking events around the world brought together community leaders, technologists, planners, government officials, and more.

150211-CodeAcross2015_Banner-smallParticipants identified common challenges and worked together to envision, design, and even prototype new kinds of solutions.

This year, Open Referral turned out to be a popular challenge! Here’s a roundup of some of the activities. Continue reading

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Deep Dive into version 1.0

Earlier this month, we published version 1.0 of the Human Service Data Specification (HSDS). Let’s take a deeper dive into it.

What is the Human Service Data Specification (HSDS)?

The HSDS is a format for data exchange, specifically designed to enable the publication of machine-readable data about health, human, and social services that are available to people in need.

HSDS is essentially an interlingua — in other words, it’s a common language that can be used by anyone to enable community resource directories to ’talk’ to each other.


Why did we develop the HSDS?

We believe that development of an open, standardized format is a necessary step in a process of reducing the costs of producing directory data, increasing the quality of such data, and promoting its re-use in valuable ways. Continue reading

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