Open Referral in San Francisco Bay

Open Referral in San Francisco Bay

The Problem

Public service organizations create and maintain many different community resource directories. Although they share similar goals and challenges, these efforts work in isolation of each other.

As a result, people seeking help must puzzle through confusing, fragmented and potentially out-of-date information resources. Social workers and other service providers must spend precious time chasing down information rather than helping people. Funders, policymakers, and other community planners struggle to find comprehensive data about the resources that are already available to meet local needs.

This chaos is ineffective and costly. It doesn’t have to be this way.

The Plan

Near term: In pilot counties, implement discrete projects that enable the publication and consumption of resource data via open platforms in ways that tangibly benefit institutions and people. This will entail:

  1. Supporting data aggregators (community anchors, government agencies, referral providers, etc) as they shift to producing/consuming open resource data;
  2. Prototyping tools for synthesis and validation of resource data from distributed sources;
  3. Demonstrating effective use by data administrators, service providers, and people in need.

Long term: Across the Bay, build capacity for cooperative stewardship and meaningful use of open resource data.

Our Projects

SF Open Referral: Our team is developing an API, loosely based on the Ohana project, in partnership with a local government agency, to serve a real-world testing environment for a standardized, interoperable resource directory system. SF Open Referral meets weekly on Wednesday evenings at the Code for San Francisco Civic Hack Nights.

Alameda Health and Human Services: Urban Strategies Council, First Five Alameda County and Eden I&R (the provider of 2-1-1 services in Alameda County) will jointly build the first ever Health and Human Service Directory Data Portal in California. Read the blog post.

San Mateo County – Ohana Project:  Ohana is an API and public web search application (see SMC-Connect) that was developed by 2013 Code for America fellows in partnership with the San Mateo County Human Services Agency.


SF Open Referral