AIRS Recommends Open Referral for Resource Database Interoperability

On behalf of the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS), I am pleased to announce that the AIRS Board has moved to promote the adoption Open Referral’s Human Service Data Specification and API protocols as methods of establishing interoperability among resource databases and associated technologies.

Our aim is to create secure, controlled and affordable processes with which Information and Referral (I&R) organizations can securely share resource database records from their own software system with other systems — and Open Referral has demonstrated considerable success in helping this field move toward that goal.

AIRS is an international association of I&R service providers. Continue reading

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Version 1.1 of the Human Services Data API Specification

[This post is from Kin Lane, the API Evangelist, who is serving as Open Referral’s deputized Technical Lead for our OpenAPI specification project. Thanks Kin!]

Version 1.1 of the Human Services Data API specification (HSDA 1.1) is now available for review and comment.

This is an alpha implementation of our OpenAPI specification. It is built upon version 1.1 of Open Referral’s Human Services Data Specification (HSDS). Whereas HSDS is designed to facilitate raw exchange and bulk publication of resource directory data, the HSDA serves as a common protocol for resource directory APIs.

To facilitate testing, we’ve made the HSDA available in this demonstration portal. This portal is a redeployable (and forkable) reference implementation that provides guidance for working with the HSDA protocols. Implementers can use it to easily set up a “developers’ area” for their own API implementation.

Moving forward, we’ll collect feedback from stakeholders and reiterate this process twice more over the course of the summer. We’re setting a day/time for the next Open Referral Assembly now; if you’re interested, indicate your availability here. Continue reading

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The Open Referral API project

The Open Referral Initiative’s next chapter starts now!

Open Referral has helped over a dozen community organizations find new ways to share resource directory information about the health, human, and social services available to people in need. Our Human Services Data Specification provides a common ‘machine language’ that any technology can be programmed to understand. This work has spurred a proliferation of ‘Application Programming Interfaces’ (APIs) — which publish machine-readable resource data for third-parties to query in real-time, so they can repurpose it in new ways.

So our newest mission is to establish interoperability across this new wave of resource directory APIs, so that machine-readable data about human services can be easily accessed and shared with a common protocol — regardless of technology, jurisdiction, organizational status, etc.

Thanks to Markets for Good for this opportunity!Toward this end, we’ve received funding from the Markets for Good program — which is now a part of the new Digital Impact initiative (digitalimpact.io) hosted by the Digital Society Lab at Stanford’s Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society!

Read Markets for Good’s announcement here. Continue reading

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iCarol announces support for exporting data to Open Referral’s Human Services Data Specification 1.0

For many years, leaders in the Information & Referral (I&R) industry have sought to improve the reliability of exchanging the data they curate about social and human service providers in their community, with partners. In any given region or metropolitan region, it is important for these providers to know about other providers so they can provide referrals to their clients for more specialized services. However, with each provider tracking and managing their own such referral database, it adds up to a significant amount of duplicated effort and large discontinuities in data quality amongst the providers.

But what if the providers could agree upon pooling their efforts and sharing the data amongst themselves, either as a loose federation, or with one obvious centralized provider who is willing to share the data with partners? And what if, on a larger scale, they desired a similar type of pooling across their state/province or even country?

That’s where an agreed-upon data standard can facilitate the sharing of resource databases amongst partners using different software systems. … Since we want iCarol to continue to be the most innovative provider of I&R software, we are building support for Open Referral’s Human Services Data Specification (HSDS) version 1.0 directly into iCarol. Continue reading

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The 2016 AIRS style guide: newly open sourced!

The Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (www.airs.org) is the trade association for ‘information and referral’ providers across North America — such as 2-1-1s, Area Agencies on Aging, and other organizations that help people connect to services that can meet their needs.

The AIRS Style Guide puts forth a formal set of recommended practices for collecting, structuring, and sharing resource directory information. The Style Guide’s objectives are to enhance the capacity for resource database administrators to produce concise, consistent, accurate directory information about the health, human, and social services available to people in need. It’s used by individuals who are curating comprehensive and/or specialized resource databases at local, state and national levels.

The Style Guide is reviewed and updated every few years, to keep up with evolving conventions.

Previous versions of the Style Guide have included a copyright disclaimer that encouraged “AIRS members and related friends” to freely repurpose the content for their own uses. I’ve met many such “friends of AIRS” — and they are indeed a pretty friendly group! Ultimately, however, the AIRS mission is to help as many people as possible to manage this information as effectively as possible; in other words, AIRS wants this content to be easy for anyone to use, even folks with whom they are not yet technically “friends.”

Towards that end, in consultation with members the Open Referral initiative, AIRS has recently decided to adopt a new license for the 2016 edition of the style guide: Creative Commons 4.0 By-Attribution. Continue reading

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