There are existing standards among certified information-and-referral systems, but these are not designed for the open exchange of data among any system.
As a result, various organizations and institutions must all independently invest in data production and technology development. This entails many missed opportunities to share infrastructure, reuse code and data, and achieve substantial cost savings.
That said, the work of developing a ‘universal data exchange schema’ does not entail starting from scratch. Rather, it entails aligning with that which already exists.
For the first phase of Open Referral, we have identified a core set of existing standards with which our format (technically known as the Human Services Data Specification) aim to be interoperable (i.e. data can be coherently translated between these formats).
Specifically, existing standards with which Open Referral is interoperable or can become interoperable include:
- Alliance of Information and Referral Systems’ XSD and the AIRS/2-1-1 Taxonomy
- The W3C’s civic services schema, proposed to the W3C through Schema.org
- The human services domain of the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM)
- FHIR’s HealthcareService resource
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