Our Inaugural Year in Review

As we wrap up 2015, I’ve taken a moment to recap our launch and progress so far in an End of Year Report. The document is available for comment and download here.

I’m including my own note of introduction here:

Last year, in 2013, I saw an opportunity. While working on what we now call DC Open 211 (which we then called the DC Community Resource Platform), I proposed a partnership to Code for America and the CfA fellows who built the Ohana Platform in San Mateo County. Continue reading

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Year in Review: a lot to shout-out about

As the year winds to a close, I want to take a moment to give thanks to some of the people who have made the Open Referral Initiative possible so far.

My first thanks should go to Bread for the City in D.C., where this whole initiative began. BFC is a rare and inspiring kind of organization, a true laboratory for innovation. Special thanks to Stacey Johnson, the mother of the database, and George Jones, Bread’s executive director, for their humble, practical leadership. Also thanks to Kathleen Stephan for sharing her on-the-ground experience, and Andrew Lomax for driving technology development.

The lion’s share of the credit for Open Referral’s launch and rapid progress goes to Code for America, whose ambitious vision in and of itself creates a new world of possibilities, and whose vast network of brigades and believers is unparalleled. CfA not only co-sponsored my work on this initiative; they have helped us learn how to effectively move from problem diagnosis to problem solving. Continue reading

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Final ‘Request for Comment’ period before version 1.0

[Update: Embedded video/notes from Assembly discussions on 12/5.] We’ve just posted version 0.8 of the Human Service Data Specification. Check it out here.

See an example CSV package here, and SQL examples here.

Among various other changes, the model now includes the means to overlay a taxonomy for types of services. It also specifies more sophisticated means of structuring data for precise queries on issues such as languages and hours of operation. There’s already some discussion about it in our community forum here. Continue reading

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A look inside the DC Open211 project

Over at Code for DC’s blog, the DC Open211 team reports back from the kickoff of the ‘Rebuilding Re-entry’ social lab.

At this event, a number of groups explored the various challenges facing people who return from prison — and one of the most prominent themes was the difficulty of finding reliable information about services that can help them get back on their feet. Of all the resource directories produced in the DC metro area, participants even identified three that are produced specifically for formerly incarcerated people, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, yet all siloed!

Over the course of the weekend, the DC Open211 team took a number of steps toward a world where this information is easier to find and use. You can read through the whole post, but one piece in particular is worth highlighting here: Continue reading

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