New research finds urgent needs for interoperability across health, human, and social service sectors

It often doesn’t matter how clever or well-designed a new technology is – if it can’t easily work with other technologies (and other organizations and people) then it may not accomplish much good at all.

In the last month, three significant reports have underscored this reality – one each from the US (produced by the Social Interventions Research & Evaluation Network), Canada (produced by MaRS Discovery District), and the UK (produced by Snook).

These reports compile a considerable amount of research from across the field of public informatics in general, and community resource information and referral systems in particular. Each assesses a broad swath of organizations and technologies that are trying to innovate in ways that help people in need – yet often struggling to realize their intended potential.

Taken together, this set of research and analysis makes an urgent case that governments, philanthropies, and civil society organizations should prioritize interoperability as a core value of their investment strategies, through promotion of open data standards in general – and Open Referral in particular.

Let’s take a look!

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Open Referral in Ontario: A Big Step Forward

[This guest post is from Karen Milligan, the new executive director of Ontario 211. Welcome, Karen!]

Excerpt: In partnership with iCarol, and leveraging the Human Services Data Specification, we are now developing a new web platform with new search capabilities to provide accurate and timely information to the public. Behind the scenes of this platform, data from numerous local databases from across the province is aggregated to create a high quality data store of community, social service and health resources. This data store is a significant step towards Ontario’s goal of implementing an ‘open data’ repository, the foundation of our 211 technology platform. Continue reading

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Data-driven justice in D.C.

Access to clear, reliable, re-usable community resource directory data is not just important for people who are seeking services that meet their immediate needs — it’s also crucial for people who are seeking to understand the workings of the human service system as a whole, as they seek ways improve health and wellness for entire communities.

Bread for the City — the primary community anchor institutions for the DC Open211 project — is already demonstrating the potential for resource data to spark systemic changes that tangibly improve the lives of their clients and the health of their community.

I’ve just reported on this story over at the Huffington Post. Here’s the gist: Continue reading

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