VisionLink adopts Open Referral for resource data interoperability

This post is adapted from VisionLink’s blog. Welcome to Doug Zimmerman, CEO of VisionLink!

VisionLink’s software, CommunityOS, supports a wide range of institutions that serve communities – from 2-1-1 hotlines and information-and-referral providers, to volunteer coordination systems, to disaster response institutions, eldercare and disability providers, refugee and immigrant-focused programs, veteran resource centers, food pantries, and more. 

Visionlink is dedicated to data standards and data exchange as a necessary part of supporting successful communities. While the value of community services data may have been defined in the past by the strength of the walls around it, today however, tremendous value comes from the ability to be use appropriate data collaboratively among partners.

Visionlink has authored and supported standards for nearly two decades. Working with ANSI, U.S. Homeland Security, CAN, AIRS, and others, we have enjoyed the opportunity to implement standards developed by others, and to author standards ourselves. In the community services market, we have converted, migrated, and exchanged more data than any other provider.

Right now we have data feeds operating continuously between the American Red Cross and FEMA to help coordinate disaster shelter management across the nation. We support a dual-system lookup solution connecting the National VOAD case management platform DART with the Red Cross Client Assistance System for coordinated care. We connect with GuideStar to confirm that nonprofit agencies are in fact legitimate, and the integration with Verified Volunteers means that our customers are only a click away from sophisticated background checks.  For United Way Worldwide, we help connect donation opportunities with bank processors and donor platforms. We have 2-1-1 customers sharing data with elder care systems, state benefits systems and addiction recovery systems. Other customers are connecting teacher profiles with licensure data from state government systems of record. Still others are connecting client information with health care systems. And of course we have data flowing to third party reporting and visualization systems. All of these examples demonstrate the need and the opportunity to leverage the value of information through its collaborative use.

We are therefore excited to formally support Open Referral’s protocols for resource data exchange.

The core concept is that many organizations serve as both users and producers of information about community services of all kinds. The recent focus on social determinants of health adds even more energy to the conversation about exchanging and updating agency and service data. Each organization shares a common interest in making it easier to share resource directory information in real-time.

To Open Referral’s credit, we believe that the Human Service Data Specification (HSDS) – and associated protocols – can meet the needs of the field, and are well positioned to mature as the field evolves.

Visionlink’s groundbreaking API Builder provides the foundation to support this standard, as it provides the real-time ability to convert simple forms into automatically deployed API endpoints for flexible, multi-purpose and multi-partner data exchanges. As this sector continues to evolve, we see ever greater needs to facilitate the responsible and effective exchange of community services data.

Visionlink adds its voice to both the concept and the deployment of this standard. We encourage our partners and the community at large to join in this work.

And of course, contact us at [email protected]. Let’s build systems of systems that leverage what we each do, to help so many more.


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