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 Florida Legal Resource Directory Project

[Update: This pilot has come to a successful conclusion! Read our final report here.]

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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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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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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