Making Complexity Friendly

Last year, SIMLab completed a project [discussed previously on this blog] with DC Public Library (DCPL) to find out how the library could deliver and maintain good information on social services in DC. Funded by the Knight Foundation’s Prototype Fund, this project sparked a prolonged investigation into how the American social safety net is constructed. What follows is a rundown of what we did. Continue reading

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Data-driven justice in D.C.

Access to clear, reliable, re-usable community resource directory data is not just important for people who are seeking services that meet their immediate needs — it’s also crucial for people who are seeking to understand the workings of the human service system as a whole, as they seek ways improve health and wellness for entire communities.

Bread for the City — the primary community anchor institutions for the DC Open211 project — is already demonstrating the potential for resource data to spark systemic changes that tangibly improve the lives of their clients and the health of their community.

I’ve just reported on this story over at the Huffington Post. Here’s the gist: Continue reading

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First Resort: Building social services resources at DC Public Library

[This is a guest post from Keith Porcaro of Social Impact Lab (SIMLab). SIMLab is partnering with the DC Public Library and the DC Open211 project on a project made possible by the Knight Foundation’s Prototype Fund.]

Particularly for those on the wrong side of the digital divide, people often turn to the library for information on where to find help. The DC Public Library (DCPL) is working to better meet this need, by improving how it provides recommendations and resources on social services in the city, and equipping librarians with question-and-answer tools that can help draw out other services that a person might need. We’re excited to announce that—with support from the Knight Foundation’s Prototype Fund and Open Referral Initiative—SIMLab is partnering with DCPL to help. 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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