Since the onset of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, Michigan 211 has received an increasing number of requests for real-time access to our social service directory database from partners and collaborators across the state. We actively maintain over 40,000 service records offered throughout Michigan, verifying its accuracy on an ongoing basis – and carefully curating this information to connect community members to local services. When initiatives like one of Michigan’s new behavioral health services wanted to leverage our information to improve their ability to meet the needs of their callers, we wanted to ensure that this critical information can be available where and when they need it.
To address this emergent need, 211 made the strategic decision to develop a cloud-based service that securely provides direct access to our resource database for third-party partners – our “social service directory data service.” Toward this end, we partnered with Brightstreet Group as our technology consultants, and adopted Open Referral’s Human Service Data Specification as the technical blueprint for resource data service.
By building this service on the foundation laid by Open Referral – from data exchange standards to an array of tools and strategic insights for new forms of resource data partnerships – we were able to focus our resources on meeting the unique needs of our partners and community at large.
As Open Referral’s network grows – involving more stakeholders in the development of interoperable resource directory information supply chains – our tools and practices must evolve in kind to support more complex needs.
So we are excited to share that Open Referral has initiated a new development cycle to upgrade the Human Service Data Specifications. This cycle has kicked off with a specific objective to address a significant issue: our specifications need to be adapted across diverse contexts, to support different conventions in different places, while preserving a core of interoperability across our ecosystem.
To support this workgroup’s efforts, we are seeking feedback from a broad array of stakeholders across our network. For instance, this Friday (July 22nd) from 11a-1p, we will host an open “fishbowl” discussion in which workgroup members will review proposals line-by-line, at which any members of our community are welcome to observe and discuss by chat – invitations available by request. We encourage interested parties to comment on the documents above, or discuss in our issues queue on Github, or reach out directly via [email protected]
Welcome back to our blog Mike Thacker of Porism Limited. Porism is a technical partner of the Local Government Association (LGA), a membership organisation of English local authorities which owns the Improvement and Development Agency for local government (IDeA). Porism also works with iStandUK, a local government standards body that promotes efficiency, transformation, and transparency of local public services in the UK.
On March 16th 2022 the UK Government Data Standards Authority Steering Board formally endorsed Open Referral UK (ORUK).
Endorsement means that UK central government departments should apply the standard in future for interchanging open data describing services. Though this does not amount to a mandate for use of the standard by local governments and “arms-length bodies” such as the National Health Service (NHS), it does build upon the Local Government Association’s early adoption as reported here in 2019 – and the NHS has already established requirements in its Health Systems Support Framework that Social Prescribing systems must (after a grace period allowed for adoption) be able to read from Open Referral UK compliant data feeds. These developments build upon a significant uptake of adoption in our sector among initiatives like LOOP, and encourage further alignment among related institutions.
[Ed: This post is from Kin Lane, author of initial Human Service Data API protocols, and now Chief Evangelist at Postman, an API development platform. Welcome back, Kin!]
Now that the Open Referral Initiative has upgraded to version 2 of the Human Service Data Specification (HSDS), we’re commencing a subsequent upgrade to version 2 of our Human Service Data API protocols (HSDA).
We now invite members of the Open Referral community to contribute feedback – especially use cases, specific feature requests, and example OpenAPI definitions – that can shape the iteration of these API protocols and, in turn, facilitate the emergence of interoperable, reliable resource directory information infrastructure. Continue reading
Open Referral has been helping the Miami-Dade 2-1-1 Helpline explore new kinds of partnership models that can deepen the impact of their operations while enhancing the sustainability of their program. (In 2017, we reported on the first phase of our … Continue reading
We’re excited to introduce a set of tools that make it easier to standardize resource data.
Community resource directory data (i.e., information about health, human, and social services available to people in need) is deceptively complex. In order to accurately represent the relationships between organizations, the services they provide, and the locations they are offered, Open Referral’s Human Service Data Specification (HSDS) calls for multiple tables, linked together — which can be challenging to work with. HSDS addressed this challenge by calling for a set of CSV files to be bundled together by a ‘datapackage’ which would specify the tables’ contents and relationships in a single machine-readable file.
Few of the members of our community, however, were familiar with datapackages and how to create them. So we’ve now made it easier to facilitate this complex approach to resource data sharing!
Thanks to the Open Knowledge Foundation, which developed the standard format for JSON datapackages, we’ve now upgraded our specification and associated tools to make it easier to produce, share, and read standardized resource data in the HSDS format, datapackage and all. Continue reading
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