Miami Open211 Phase One: Our Report

Last year, the Miami Open211 project set out to demonstrate that an information-and-referral helpline operator can evolve into an open platform — providing machine-readable data as a service to its community — in ways that are both technically efficient and institutionally sustainable.

This project, which began in partnership with Switchboard of Miami, was Open Referral’s first formal pilot with a 2-1-1 provider.

Last week, we submitted the final report for this first phase of innovation. Many thanks to the Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade County, which funded our experiment, and Jewish Community Services of South Florida, the new steward of Miami-Dade’s 2-1-1 service. With their blessing, we are excited to share our findings with the Open Referral community.

See the Final Report document here.

And check out a summary of our key accomplishments below. 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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The Florida Legal Resource Directory Project

Legal problems: sometimes you don’t even know you have one until it’s too late.

When it comes to people with low incomes, legal problems of various kinds — issues with landlords, family disputes, rejected benefits, etc — can be outright debilitating. Yet while there are many legal resources available to people in need, these kinds of services tend to be some of the hardest for people to find and access.

That’s why we’re excited to be starting an Open Referral pilot project with legal service providers across the state of Florida.

With support from the Florida Bar Foundation, the Legal Services Corporation, and LegalServer — and in coordination with multiple other implementations of the Open Referral format in legal aid networks across the country — Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida will pilot a new, replicable approach to publishing directory information about legal services as standardized, machine-readable data that will be freely accessible to an ecosystem of tools and services that help people find help.

NB: we are soliciting proposals for technical leadership on this project. See this RFP.

To learn more, read this post from Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida’s Executive Director, Kimberly Sanchez, below — and you can also reach out to info@openreferral.org to inquire about starting a similar pilot projects in your community. Continue reading

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Open Referral in Oklahoma!

This is a guest post from Aaron Bean of Asemio. Welcome, Aaron!

We’re pleased to introduce the first iteration of the Oklahoma Open 2-1-1 project, which is leveraging the Ohana platform and the Open Referral format to make it easier for Oklahoma residents to find and share information about community resources that can help improve their lives.

This is just an initial demonstration of a major initiative that dates back several years. A wide range of stakeholders across many sectors in Tulsa and our surrounding region have been developing a shared assessment of the complex nature of our social problems, and we have recently coalesced around a common goal: to understand and reduce disparities in health outcomes by race, class, and gender through a holistic view of the various community systems that serve individuals and families. (See our whitepaper PDF here.)

Toward this goal, we seek to answer the question of how we can better align and integrate the various resources in our community that might help solve complex social problems. Continue reading

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Meet the Open Data Services Cooperative

This post is from Tim Davies, founding member of the Open Data Services Co-operative.

We’re really delighted to announce the Open Data Services Co-operative’s new collaboration with Open Referral on the Miami Open 211 project, and on wider developments of the Human Services Data Specification (HSDS).

At the Open Data Services Co-operative, we’re passionate about helping people publish and use open data for social impact, particularly where data standards are involved. We believe that data standards are a key part of shared infrastructure for collaboration. As infrastructure, standards need a lot of behind the scenes design, development and maintenance work. When standards operate well, most users will hardly notice them. When standards are neglected, all sort of opportunities for connection, collaboration and engagement break down. But standards are not just technical — they are fundamentally social: about connecting people as well as information. Continue reading

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Open Referral for legal services in Illinois: the new IllinoisLegalAid.org

This is a guest post from Teri Ross, Program Director for Illinois Legal Aid Online.

 

Illinois Legal Aid Online develops technology and information to increase access to justice for people in Illinois who may otherwise be foreclosed from it, especially for those who cannot find or afford a lawyer.

Illinois Legal Aid Online, or ILAO, just completed a major overhaul of our online platform — consolidating four separate websites — including IllinoisLegalAdvocate.org, IllinoisProBono.org, and IllinoisLegalAidOnline.org — into one mobile-friendly site: IllinoisLegalAid.org.

I’m pleased to share our launch on the Open Referral blog, as the data model produced by this community has enabled us to increase the complexity of our information while simplifying the experience for our users. Continue reading

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Welcome to Miami Open211

For more than thirty years, Switchboard of Miami has helped residents of Miami-Dade County find information about health and human services whenever someone has picked up the phone and dialed 2-1-1. This makes Switchboard one of the longest-serving referral providers in the field. We’re proud to announce that Code for Miami is now working with the Open Referral Initiative on the Miami Open211 Project, which will transform Switchboard of Miami into an open platform — one of the first of its kind.

Over the past decade, Switchboard’s services have grown far beyond a friendly voice on the other side of telephone; they now operate Seniors Never Alone which provides regular over-the-phone engagement for a large population of otherwise-isolated South Florida seniors, a renowned suicide prevention hotline, the Help Me Grow program for childhood development services, and even face-to-face case management.

Now, Switchboard is exploring yet another new chapter in its long history: open data. 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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2015 in Review: who’s doing what, where and why

In the last blog post, we discussed the different technological products that have emerged through Open Referral. [See our entire 2015 Year in Review here.]

In this post, we’ll discuss the different projects in which people are using these tools to find new ways to share and use information about the health, human, and social services available to people in need. Continue reading

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