Presenting ORServices 3.0: a Complete Laravel-based Open Referral Directory Solution

[Welcome back, Devin Balkind of Sarapis!]

I’m happy to announce that Sarapis is releasing a Laravel-based Open Referral Directory Solution (ORServices) as open source code!

This software enables anyone to create their own community resource directory information system — with a level of design and functionality that is comparable to proprietary resource directory software systems that are available on the market.

ORServices offers a mobile-friendly, geo-aware directory software with search and granular filters built with Open Referral’s Human Service Data Standard (HSDS) compliant data model. By leveraging HSDS, this system can also establish interoperability with other standardized systems, so that resource directory data can be shared among them.

Additional features include:

  • Mobile-friendly resource finder ‘front-end’:
    • All data displayed in map view
    • Location-based search with results sorted by distance
    • Download PDFs and CSVs of individual and filtered lists of services and organizations.
    • Integration with Google Translate enables users to see content in dozens of languages.
    • Integrate with Google Analytics for tracking user flows, usage statistics and more
  • Content management system for your resource database:
    • User Management tools enable different users to have varying abilities according to established roles — including service record management and organization-level grouping
    • Track and manage resource data admin processes
    • Content management features include Home page and About page design tools, and site appearance customization for colors, icons, images, logos, headers and footers
      • Taxonomy Management enables standard categories with icons, as well as additional / alternative taxonomies
  • Data integration features enable importing and exporting from
    • Airtable, HSDS CSVs, HSDS Zip, and HSD API

The project began in 2018 with a microgrant to build an approximation of Open Referral’s HSDS in Airtable. Sarapis then funded a Laravel-based tool we called ORServices to import that Airtable into a more conventional directory style website.

The initial ORServices solution was relatively popular because it enables organizations to manage data in the easy-to-use Airtable platform and then make a subset of that data publicly accessible via the ORServices app. This popularity attracted a number of clients who invested in development of the software to the point it’s at today. You can read more details about those projects here.

We’d like to thank DOROT USA, Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council, South Dade Cares Community Coalition, and the DC Community Resource Information Exchange for working with us. Their desire for robust, easy-to-use service directories fueled this project.

We’re so excited to share this codebase with the Open Referral community. We hope you’ll use it to spread the Open Referral data formats far and wide, enabling more people to find the services they need to live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives.

This is still just the beginning of a long journey. Our goal is to enable communities to efficiently and effectively share — and understand the use of — information about health, human and social services. We hope you’ll join us on Github where we can collaboratively improve this software for the benefit of all.

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