Who are the Open Referral Initiative’s ‘users’?

We’ve identified four primary types of use that are relevant to this domain. Read more here for full personas and user stories.

  • Seeking help (service users, clients, etc)
  • Providing help (service providers, i.e. anyone helping someone find information about services)
  • Administering data (anyone engaged in working with community resource data and the technical systems that use it)
  • Research (anyone trying to analyze resource data to better understand the allocation of resources in a community).

Through these distinct perspectives, we set the parameters of our research, design, and evaluation. Our format (and the associated tools) should meet all of their needs.  

Obviously, ‘help seekers’ are the ultimate stakeholders, and we should consider our work first and foremost from their perspective. Aside from this premise, we do not prioritize one stakeholder’s needs above another. 

However, we do have a specific tactical analysis that guides our work:  

We believe that the most immediate and urgent objective is to improve the ability for all kinds of service providers to make effective referrals with accurate information. One of our core hypotheses is that if/when an ‘open system’ meets the needs of the service providers in its community, those service providers will play a critical role in maintaining the accuracy of its information. 

Yet we also recognize that an increasingly common ‘use case’ is an individual searching the web themselves. Surely we want more of those self-performed searches to be effective. So, an open platform must achieve sustainability such that its information is readily findable through direct web searches. (Of course, even given success on both of those counts, we still assume there would remain a need for trained referral specialists — especially for complex situations, edge cases, etc.)

Finally, when it comes to actually adopting and using open data standards and platforms, we recognize that the most operational type of use is data administration. In other words, our format and tools must be readily usable by anyone who updates this information and manages the technology that stores and delivers it. 

As adoption of open data standards makes it easier to solve the problems of maintaining resource directory information, we anticipate that it will become a lot easier for the many different types of service providers to allocate their resources as effectively as possible toward delivering and acting upon this information.

Posted in: About Open Referral