Introductions thread [welcome to Open Referral!]

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Greg Bloom

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Apr 7, 2014, 4:29:10 PM4/7/14
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Hi folks - 

As our work together gradually gets started, I want us all to take some time to introduce ourselves. Declan and Devin have already done so, and I hope to see everyone on this list eventually follow suit. (I know some of y’all may just be trying to lurk… be prepared to get noodged!)

We all want to know: 
A bit about who you are.
Your experience with referral information systems, and what brought you to join this group.
A potential 'use case' of community resource data that you hope this work can make possible.

AND please share at least one or two of the following: 
What are some resources you can bring to the table? 
What needs do you have, with which others might be able to help? 
What questions do you want us to try to answer?

Okay, I’ll go first! 

#

So. I’m originally from Miami, Florida, and have been working in the health/human/social service sector in the District of Columbia (as in, the city itself — not the seat of the Federal Government) for about seven years. My professional experience is a mix of community organizing, fundraising, and communications of various other kinds. 

I like to try to make systems work better for the people who are impacted by them. The ways that I go about that usually involve creating space for people to share, learn, and work together to make such improvements (or to imagine new systems, then build them) themselves. 

Most of y’all have heard my story about how I came to this particular field, and what my vision is; for anyone new and/or interested in more details, you can read my essay published in Beyond Transparency last year.

A lot has happened since that essay was published. Right in the midst of my research, Google.org proposed their Civic Services schema to the W3C. This immediately seemed like it could be a game-changing development. Around the time my essay was published, I convened a conversation among Google.org, AIRS, Code for America, Aunt Bertha, and a number of ‘subject matter experts’ who had informed my research. That conversation led to the forming of this group; the development of this proposal that I’ve put before us; and finally, co-sponsorship of my work by Code for America and the Ohana project. 

That brings us more or less up to date. So, for some thoughts on my role here moving forward: 

My title here is Chief Organizing Officer of the Open Referral initiative, though I picked it with my tongue planted firmly in cheek. My power is essentially facilitative: I’m going to be synthesizing information, helping set agendas, seeking clarification, cheering greatness, intervening in anything that seems unconstructive, and of course, accounting for decisions along the way. 

Also important to clarify: I’m not an employee of Code for America. They have contracted me specifically to provide services for the development of the Open Referral community (such as this email right here). As such, CfA is 'co-sponsoring’ the launch of this initiative — but it is very much ‘owned’ by all of us in this group. I’m looking to you all for leadership and vision (and help with graphic modeling!) and believe we can do things in a way that includes and supports a broad range of interests and perspectives. I’m always inclined to seek rough consensus, but my prerogative is always to solicit and defer to the expressed interests of actual stakeholders — in other words, the people who work in and/or seek help from health, human, and social services.

A final note, on principles. In the near term, I think it will benefit this community to articulate a set of our own principles. There are a number of existing sets of ‘open data' principles that we might consider. However, shared principles can only truly emerge from shared experiences. 

That said, I can be clear on what my principles are, so that you know where I’m coming from right from the start. So here goes:

In my work, I have learned a tremendous amount from the Allied Media Projects [https://alliedmedia.org/amp-network-principles], as well as the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition [http://detroitdjc.org/principles/] — I aspire to follow the precedents they’ve set in grounding work for social change in the experiences and prerogatives of marginalized people. I’ve also recently been trained as a ‘cooperative developer,’ and I find the Rochdale cooperative principles to be somewhat relevant (if only by analogy) to this context. I also admire the methodologies of Lean and Agile, yet these too will require some re-imagination to effectively be applied here. Finally, I’ve been studying the work of Elinor Ostrom and her principles of common pool resource management -- which I believe are directly applicable to our mission here.

That’s all for now! Thanks to those of you who have read this far. I’ll be nudging everyone to share their own introductions (which I assume will be shorter than mine, unless you got a stemwinder of a story yourself, in which case, let it loose :)

~greg 

neil

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Apr 7, 2014, 5:32:06 PM4/7/14
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Hi all,
I'm the Director of Services for iCarol, which is a hosted platform built specifically for non-profit help lines (as we call them). In this context folks might call it an Information and Referral software system. We have hundreds of agencies in the US, Canada and internationally who use our system, some of whom have shown an interest in OpenReferral. My team has conversed with Greg and reviewed the documentation so far. We have a great deal of experience integrating with third-party data (both as publishers and consumers) and are happy to contribute to this initiative too.

Neil McKechnie

Moncef Belyamani

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Apr 8, 2014, 10:38:03 AM4/8/14
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Hi everyone,

I'm one of the co-creators of the Ohana project. My professional background is in Software Quality Assurance and Software Development (Ruby on Rails primarily). You can read more about my background here: http://about.me/moncef

During the Code for America Fellowship last year, I wrote the code for the Ohana API and the Ohana API Admin interface. This year, we are focusing on streamlining and improving the code to make it more robust and easier for other communities to deploy. What we built last year was a prototype for San Mateo County in California, so there's a lot of hardcoded stuff that's specific to San Mateo County. We want to extract those out into settings that can be customized based on a community's needs and preferences.

One of the major changes we had planned was to change the database that holds the data from MongoDB to Postgres. This work should be done by early next week. Along with the recent improvements to the documentation and scripts for installing and deploying the code, this means that communities can feel confident in using Ohana to import their data and start making updates using the admin interface. The subsequent improvements we make to the code can then be pulled in as needed without affecting the data or having to re-import it.

I'm not by any means an expert in human and social services, so we're looking to those of you who are to provide feedback via GitHub. Feedback examples include pointing out missing or unclear documentation, features you would like to have, fields/columns or tables that should be added to the database. Here are all 4 repositories where you can provide feedback by opening an "Issue" (make sure to read through the current issues first):

Eric Jahn

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Apr 8, 2014, 3:08:36 PM4/8/14
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Hello, Eric Jahn signing in.  

I'm a health and human services interoperability consultant, freelancing as "Alexandria Consulting" out of Saint Petersburg, Florida. 

I'm interested in how OpenReferral will harmonize with existing models/standards such as NIEM UML, the Open Data Protocol, AIRS, etc..   

Looking forward to collaborating with you all!  -Eric

Sophia Parafina

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Apr 8, 2014, 3:23:26 PM4/8/14
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Hi,

I'm Sophia Parafina one of the Ohana project team members. I've a done a bunch of stuff, it's mostly on the net, if you're interested. Relevant experience is that I funded and helped developed standards for geospatial data and interfaces in a past life. Some of the standards became ISO standards. My primary role is facilitating development and publishing the OpenReferral standard. So if you want to provide input, need help with posting issues, need help with using GitHub, scheduling meetings, let me know.

I'm laconic and parsimonious in speech and writing, which means I'm listening.

sophia

Fitch, Dale K.

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Apr 8, 2014, 4:31:09 PM4/8/14
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Hi Group,

Dale Fitch, here, an academic in social work. I cut my teeth as a social worker 30 years ago on the United Way's "Bluebook," the forerunner for all community resource directories. I moved to academia 15 years ago and do research on human services and technology <http://ssw.missouri.edu/faculty_fitch.html>. I cut my I&R 'digital' teeth on the 2-1-1 implementation in Michigan in the early aughts. That experience and my other research has really guided me to the conceptual side of information system design, ala, soft systems methodologies, etc., focusing on the 'requirements analysis' process. I shudder whenever I hear a project team member utter 'scope creep' because that means requirements were not properly done in the first place. I have found my work in that area makes my eventual database design work flow a lot more smoothly. In principle I am very attracted to the idea of Open Referral; however, I believe at this time we are talking more about directory standards as opposed to actually doing referrals. That's fine as long as we remember the difference between the two.

Regards,

Dale

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Anselm Bradford

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Apr 9, 2014, 12:25:44 AM4/9/14
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Hi All, I'm on the Ohana team, where I'm focused on design and interaction related areas. My background is in visual communication, web and interactive design. I'm working primarily on building the search front-end to the API (github.com/codeforamerica/ohana-web-search), which is the evolution of http://smc-connect.org. As Moncef outlined, feedback is always good!

Ans

--

Anselm Bradford

Co-creator, Front-end dev Ohana API - ohanapi.org
2013 Code for America San Mateo County Team

Hailey Pate

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Apr 9, 2014, 4:14:51 PM4/9/14
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Hi all!

I live in Sacramento, where I work for the State of California as a data program analyst by day and serve as a CfA Brigade captain by night. 

Over the past several years, I have worked with lots of different public-sector stakeholders to adopt, implement, and revise data standards. I'm particularly interested in how we document and communicate data standards to both technical and non-technical folks. Standards I've worked with in the past are healthcare related and include Los Angeles County Trauma and Emergency Medical Services Information System Data Standards (TEMIS), California EMS Information System Standards, National Trauma Data Standard, and the National EMS Information System.

I've seen a lot of successes with data standards, but I've also seen many fails. If my experience and lessons learned might be helpful at the initiative level, I'm always glad to share!

Otherwise, I'm hoping to support local information and referral organizations here in the Sacramento area by 1) connecting them with our local brigade and 2) sharing the news about the awesome resources available by Code for America (i.e. Ohana!)

Proud to be connected with you all,  

Hailey

Scott Schwaitzberg

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Apr 9, 2014, 4:17:12 PM4/9/14
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Hi everyone,

 I live in SF and work for the Google Social Impact team. 

Last year, my colleagues and I developed the civic services schema for schema.org 

Excited to see what this group pulls together! 

best,
Scott


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Clive Jones

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Apr 9, 2014, 8:40:56 PM4/9/14
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OK ... my name is Clive Jones and I am Helper Without Portfolio for the grandly named Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (www.airs.org) which in reality is a small nonprofit (2.5 program staff) membership association of about 1,100 organizations in the US and Canada who are engaged in the art and science of this niche within the human services system know as 'Information and Referral'.

If you would like to learn more about what that involves, I will gladly spend the 9 hours needed ... about 35% of our members operate comprehensive I&R programs under the 2-1-1 banner, about 40% operate Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) or Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs), while the remainder are a mixture of comprehensive and specialized I&R programs. Most members are nonprofits, some are programs within governments.

AIRS has national standards (www.airs.org/standards), we run an accreditation program for organizations and a certification program for individuals (one certification program for the social service folks who work with clients and one for the resource specialists who gather and maintain human services information). AIRS developed an XSD so most of the I&R softwares can "sort of" exchange data with each other.

AIRS does not own or have any financial interest in the AIRS/211 LA County Taxonomy of Human Services but believes it is one of the most amazing fruits of a 30+ year long collaboration of the hundreds of organizations that use it and contribute to its ongoing development. The Taxonomy needs more folksonomy approaches to augment its searchability but I have found that most criticisms of it are based on some false premises, so I will be happy to politely admit any faults that actually exist while also correcting any misunderstandings that might be out there!

All I&R databases are free and online (so folks are not trying to 'sell' or 'restrict' 'their'data), but nearly all I&Rs/211s have been the 'victim/survivors' of data scraping without the use of the word 'please', so there is sensitivity there that this project is aiming to do that ... However, many of our members are open to opportunities to get our data into more places to help more people in more ways - as this has always been our mission and we are VERY passionate about it !!

We are happy to get involved with bright, smart people who can potentially take us to the next level of being able to help people. Last year, our folks answered around 25 million calls and had webvisits well in excess of that number, but we need to expand the use and usability of our data, and also be able to enhance our capacity in mobile, chat and text.

We have a handful of projects that various members and our existing software providers/partners are engaged in that involve APIs and so on and so forth, so we are also happy to get involved in this project in order to learn more about it (and we would like to think you would like to learn more about us) ... we think this is the right destination to head towards. (Although "we" does not mean "everyone" but is more than just "me")

Most data/application projects I have been involved with had business requirements being confirmed followed by coding -- not sure if that boat has sailed and we will be looking at coding followed by "yeah, this won't work because it does not take into account of  ..." or "wow, I am astonished you managed to figure that out. Not many people do!".    And by the way if you direct me to a data schema and say "look, there it is, you are free to comment on it", I am probably not going to understand it ...but would like to do so ...

And if you have read this far down - thanks for your patient indulgence (it is a good sign!)

Clive Jones
AIRS



 

Joey Schulte

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Apr 10, 2014, 8:47:38 AM4/10/14
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Hello,

My name is Joey Schulte and I come from a comprehensive 211 called HandsOn Central Ohio. I've been here almost 2 years as a Resource Specialist (database manager, indexer and researcher of services). I come from a library background and hold a MLIS which I think help contributes to my excitement about such a project. I am a firm believer in free and open information to everyone.

A use case I would be interested in seeing is being able to look at referral/resource data from like sized cities to compare similar and distinct problems between them. I would hope to be able to glean gaps of coverage and look to other cities as a model of what programs have been successful for them addressing the needs of clients. I also see this as a great means of collaboration that is often spoken of and lauded in the nonprofit world but rarely seems to be put into practice.

I would say what I bring to the table is someone who knows the "problems" with making all of our data open outside of the organization. Many 211s are apprehensive because being the gatekeeper of that information gives them value. If you make it free to the public, would city/county/state government still see the value of the information enough to pay us for what we do, even though they can access it now for free. I am of firm belief that the data would be valuable enough that it wouldn't be an issue, but I understand people's concerns, especially those from smaller municipalities that may not have a lot of funds to throw around for a service that may seem antiquated in a lot of ways.

My MLIS specialty was cataloging so I also have a thorough understanding of classification schema, indexing practices and relevance of metadata. I, however, am not a programmer, and I do not enjoy what little coding I actually know how to do.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Joey Schulte



David Erlandson

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Apr 10, 2014, 11:15:38 AM4/10/14
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Dajia hao!

Like Joey I've got an MLIS and am a resource specialist with United Way 211 in the metro area of Minnesota (http://211unitedway.org/).  I'm fairly new to this position, starting just last November, but I'm pretty excited about the possibilities of this project.  I will say that it is going to be a tough sell for some of the management in my organization:  as Clive mentioned many 211s have had information effectively stolen, which happened to our organization and lead to the formation of our greatest competitor.  I personally think open data is the way most information fields should be going which led to me joining this group.  

I'd like to see referral data in the hands of people who can analyze it and make recommendations regarding the development of our database is what I'm mostly interested in as a use case.  This is something that I could do if I had a few more hours in the day, but updating the database entries we have tends to be more important for my particular job.  I also think it would be great if nonprofits had this data to better coordinate services among themselves.  I personally feel that there's a lot of untapped potential in the data we have.    

My organization is a private/public partnership, so I'd like to help guide standards and policies to a place where I can convince the leaders of the organization that opening up our data would be a good move.  Also similar to Joey there's the classification/metadata/211 taxonomy experience I can contribute as well.

Jarred Wilson

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Apr 10, 2014, 11:47:07 AM4/10/14
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Hi Everyone,

I have a similar experience as David and Joey, having come from a library/archives background. But before I decided to go to grad school, I was working in human and social services and in non-profit management. I'm now at Switchboard of Miami (the 2-1-1 provider for Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Collier counties), where I've been maintaining our database for about 6 months. I joined the group because I (as well as my company) have a strong interest in seeing more cooperation between human/social services providers in our community. We see ourselves as the ones who can really bring organizations together and help them maximize their reach while being mindful of limited resources. And a huge part to doing that is having the ability to share information easily. We're certainly guarded about the work we've put into collecting and maintaining (I would use the word curate if it wouldn't tick off my museum friends) the information we have, but we realize that it's no good if it's sitting in our database and not shared. So I guess my use case is broad, but I'd like to see open data in I&R work to make the provision of services more streamlined and efficient within specific communities.

I think what I can bring to the table is an ability to share and synthesize multiple perspectives. I have a fairly strong understanding of the technology behind open data initiatives, having worked with various archives & library projects, as well as some GIS applications. And I have a real understanding of what it's like to be in a small, struggling non-profit who is trying to help people but who finds itself spending half its time chasing down information for its clients only to find out that a site has closed or a service is no longer offered (I'm speaking of my previous work experience, not to mention the difficulties of working within I&R and having to track down all of this information).

A question I would want us to try to answer is how do we make this project palatable to people within I&R who do not have a technical background or understanding of the current reality open data. I have the impression (I could be dead wrong, though) that a lot of people who work in I&R come to it from a human and social services background, with a strong desire to help people, but without a strong technical background. Those of us in I&R and in other human and social service fields certainly make sure that we're providing the best technical platforms for our work that we know how, often having to rely on IT managers or IT vendors to do so. But, I don't think we always have a day-to-day hand in the technical world like a lot of other-CfA-project people might. I just think it's important to keep that in mind and make sure we figure out how to present whatever we're doing in a way that will be easily digested by those with less tech savvy than us.

I'm looking forward to this project and hope to be a meaningful part of it!

Best,
Jarred Wilson


Jarred Wilson, MSIS
Data Resource Specialist

Switchboard Of Miami
190 NE 3rd Street
Miami FL 33132
Tel: (305) 358-1640 x1148 Fax: (305) 377-2269
24-Hour HELPline: (305) 358-4357 or 211
TTY: (305) 644-9449 or 211, opt 4

http://www.switchboardmiami.org
-----Original Message-----
From: OpenRe...@googlegroups.com on behalf of Greg Bloom
Sent: Mon 4/7/2014 4:29 PM
To: openre...@googlegroups.com
Subject: [openreferral] Introductions thread [welcome to Open Referral!]

Hi folks -

As our work together gradually gets started, I want us all to take some
time to introduce ourselves.
Declan<https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/openreferral/W64vfZ7w7qo>and
Devin <https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/openreferral/2cH9Ylke5zE>have
already done so, and I hope to see everyone on this list eventually
follow suit. (I know some of y'all may just be trying to lurk... be prepared
to get noodged!)

*We all want to know: *
A bit about who you are.
Your experience with referral information systems, and what brought you to
join this group.
A potential 'use case' of community resource data that you hope this work
can make possible.

*AND please share at least one or two of the following: *
What are some resources you can bring to the table?
What needs do you have, with which others might be able to help?
What questions do you want us to try to answer?

Okay, I'll go first!

#

So. I'm originally from Miami, Florida, and have been working in the
health/human/social service sector in the District of Columbia (as in, the
city itself -- not the seat of the Federal Government) for about seven
years. My professional experience is a mix of community organizing,
fundraising, and communications of various other kinds.

I like to try to make systems work better for the people who are impacted
by them. The ways that I go about that usually involve creating space for
people to share, learn, and work together to make such improvements (or to
imagine new systems, then build them) themselves.

Most of y'all have heard my story about how I came to this particular
field, and what my vision is; for anyone new and/or interested in more
details, you can read my essay published in *Beyond Transparency* last
year<http://beyondtransparency.org/chapters/part-5/towards-a-community-data-commons/>
.

A lot has happened since that essay was published. Right in the midst of my
research, Google.org proposed their Civic Services schema to the
W3C<http://blog.schema.org/2013/08/vocabulary-for-describing-civic-services.html>.
This immediately seemed like it could be a game-changing development.
Around the time my essay was published, I convened a conversation among
Google.org, AIRS, Code for America, Aunt Bertha, and a number of 'subject
matter experts' who had informed my research. That conversation led to the
forming of this group; the development of this proposal that I've put
before us<https://docs.google.com/document/d/17cJxF_1P6fafcsFJQERFQifKKc_kPbAKmAXwe2LWDcI/edit#heading=h.bcx6pkqe4xyv>;
and finally, co-sponsorship of my work by Code for America and the Ohana
project.

That brings us more or less up to date. So, for some thoughts on my role
here moving forward:

My title here is Chief Organizing Officer of the Open Referral initiative,
though I picked it with my tongue planted firmly in cheek. My power is
essentially facilitative: I'm going to be synthesizing information, helping
set agendas, seeking clarification, cheering greatness, intervening in
anything that seems unconstructive, and of course, accounting for decisions
along the way.

Also important to clarify: I'm not an employee of Code for America. They
have contracted me specifically to provide services for the development of
the Open Referral community (such as this email right here). As such, CfA
is 'co-sponsoring' the launch of this initiative -- but it is very much
'owned' by all of us in this group. I'm looking to you all for leadership
and vision (and help with graphic
modeling<https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1WRpa15fzCSfJwdj0mWlXmjG3MP3Bll_OJYq7MvL40jY/edit>!)
and believe we can do things in a way that includes and supports a broad
range of interests and perspectives. I'm always inclined to seek rough
consensus, but my prerogative is always to solicit and defer to the
expressed interests of actual stakeholders -- in other words, the people who
work in and/or seek help from health, human, and social services.

A final note, on principles. In the near term, I think it will benefit this
community to articulate a set of our own principles. There are a
number of existing
sets <http://globalopendatainitiative.org/declaration/> of 'open data'
principles<http://www.civilrights.org/press/2014/civil-rights-principles-big-data.html>that
we might consider.
However, shared principles can only truly emerge from shared experiences.

That said, I can be clear on what *my *principles are, so that you know
where I'm coming from right from the start. So here goes:

In my work, I have learned a tremendous amount from the Allied Media
Projects [*https://alliedmedia.org/amp-network-principles
<https://alliedmedia.org/amp-network-principles>*], as well as the Detroit
Digital Justice Coalition [*http://detroitdjc.org/principles/
<http://detroitdjc.org/principles/>*] -- I aspire to follow the precedents
they've set in grounding work for social change in the experiences and
prerogatives of marginalized people. I've also recently been trained as a
'cooperative developer,' and I find the Rochdale cooperative
principles<http://usa2012.coop/about-co-ops/7-cooperative-principles>
to
be somewhat relevant (if only by analogy) to this context. I also admire
the methodologies of Lean <http://theleanstartup.com/principles> and
Agile<http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html>,
yet these too will require some re-imagination to effectively be applied
here. Finally, I've been studying the work of Elinor Ostrom and her
principles of common pool resource
management<http://onthecommons.org/magazine/elinor-ostroms-8-principles-managing-commmons>
--
which I believe are directly applicable to our mission here.

That's all for now! Thanks to those of you who have read this far. I'll be
nudging everyone to share their own introductions (which I assume will be
shorter than mine, unless you got a stemwinder of a story yourself, in
which case, let it loose :)

~greg
202.643.3648

Fitch, Dale K.

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Apr 10, 2014, 4:39:52 PM4/10/14
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Dear Group,

A couple of observations based on today's introductions. But first, just to clarify, while I sometimes speak fondly of 2-1-1, I have never worked for, nor ever received any funding from, any 2-1-1 entity or AIRS in any way, shape or form. Two, my interest in I&R extends back to the early 90s when the federal government had a grant program entitled TOP (Technology Opportunities Program). By the late 90s many communities across the U.S. had "community resource directories" funded by this program. Unfortunately, I know of known that still exist. As such, when 2-1-1 came along, and offered to provide web based information and 'information kiosks' in the mall, it seemed like a new day was dawning. In retrospect, the technologies were very primitive, but they were going in the right direction as their intent was always to make the information publicly available.

 

From my perspective the technology has rarely been the problem. The 2-1-1 folks (at the national level) knew it would evolve and from my perspective they were fine with that.  How that was implemented at the local level I'm sure was a different matter. Instead, I believe the primary problem lies with the accuracy of the data. My information systems research echoes exactly what Jarred said (I know Jarred made the following comment referencing a prior position), "only to find out that a site has closed or a service is no longer offered..." Keeping the underlying data accurate and current is not easy. David's posting highlights the other brutal reality in that someone has to pay to keep that data accurate. Then having that data "stolen" just does not work over the long term as it will always detrimentally impact community relationships.

 

I understand the beauty of APIs and how they can be a tremendous labor saving device, but if they are scraping data for which other people have had to pay to produce, then I think that goes by another word - theft. I fully appreciate the Creative Commons license (and have used it with some of my own products) and the API Commons <http://apicommons.org/>, but I believe those relationships, motives and behaviors must be very explicit and they must be honored.

 

Ideally, if we can derive a schema (e.g., schema.org) based upon a robust taxonomy (e.g., AIRS) and if we can get agencies to use this schema on their websites, and if they update that information when changes occurs, then we may go a LONG WAYS toward having a fully automated data update system. Then the API spiders can crawl all they want!

 

Best,

Dale

--

Greg Bloom

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Apr 11, 2014, 11:31:41 AM4/11/14
to Fitch, Dale K., OpenRe...@googlegroups.com
Folks - thanks for the introductions we've had so far. I'm personally excited by the breadth of experience -- and to see us joined by a number of experienced I&R hands who share our vision.  

Dale - thanks for your thoughts, I'm going to respond to something you've said in another thread. Meanwhile, I encourage everyone to keep this thread just for introductions. This way new people can quickly scroll through to see who's in here. (Note that I've pinned this thread to the top of the group.) Feel welcome to respond to and/or about someone who has introduced themselves here, for the purpose of sharing even more information about the people in the group. But for topical or procedural discussion, if someone says something to which you wish to respond, please start a new thread. 

Everyone else - I'm asking all of the members of this group to chime in here! If you haven't introduced yourself, I'm eventually gonna bug you to do so. ;)

~greg

--
• gjb •

Derek Coursen

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Apr 11, 2014, 11:36:36 AM4/11/14
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Hi, my name is Derek Coursen. A long time ago, while doing an MLS, I worked on a community referral directory for immigrant services at Queens Library. Later I studied information systems, particularly data architecture and software development methodology. Finally I studied public administration, with a focus on how best to strategically organize information in the service of multiple diverse stakeholder groups.
 
My macro interest is in how the human services can evolve more effective and sector-specific information methodologies. I teach that as an adjunct at NYU Wagner, and blog about it at humanserviceinformatics.wordpress.com
 
I'm excited by this group's potential to develop new approaches that might break through the longstanding dilemmas of I&R. I think the key will be to develop something that will be a cost-effective choice for as many stakeholders as possible in this underfunded field. Good long-term solutions, in my view, need to be based on a mindset that is pragmatic and eclectically informed and that avoids narrow ideological commitments.
 
Dale, I was very glad that you wrote:
I understand the beauty of APIs and how they can be a tremendous labor saving device, but if they are scraping data for which other people have had to pay to produce, then I think that goes by another word - theft. I fully appreciate the Creative Commons license (and have used it with some of my own products) and the API Commons <http://apicommons.org/>, but I believe those relationships, motives and behaviors must be very explicit and they must be honored.
Agree 100%.
 
Derek
 

 

Steve Eastwood

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Apr 11, 2014, 1:12:24 PM4/11/14
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Hello all,

I'm the Resources Manager for 2-1-1 Arizona in Phoenix. I've been with the agency that runs that program, Community Information and Referral Services, for almost 17 years and I take care of the referral database, website, social media, and electronic newsletter.

Hoping to find out what this project is all about and what it's primary purpose is and how my agency and others like it across the U.S. and Canada fit into the picture. 

Keith Lavery-Barclay

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Apr 11, 2014, 8:25:53 PM4/11/14
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Hi

My name is Keith, I'm an Information & Referral Database Specialist with an Area Agency on Aging, Aging and Disability Resource Center.

I came into the Health and Human Service Industry by back roads, my qualifications are in Engineering, data, digital, micro processing control, software and hardware design. The reason for saying all that is I am also an immigrant and arriving here I couldn't find work in my field because no-one understood my qualifications, mine are mostly vocational, here they were looking for academic, they had the data, but not the information to make an informed decision about my abilities, and that is the difference we in the Information and Referral business are worried about, you can scream all you want about openness, but information is to data as chocolate is to ice-cream, unless what we are giving is the information the person is looking for, it is a usless collection of data. I&R have been providing this service for a long time, on a local basis, I'm all in favor of combining, we've advocated for it at AIRS for a l ong time, but to get this information costs, and someone has to pay the bill, sure we'll share our information, will you share the cost?



David Henderson

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Apr 14, 2014, 1:46:40 PM4/14/14
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Hey all,

My name is David Henderson, for a number of years I ran a company called Idealisitcs that built web-based referral systems for large nonprofit and government agencies. I've had the opportunity to meet with Greg several times and am glad to see this initiative gaining momentum.

David Henderson

Stephanie Sanchez, CIRS

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Apr 15, 2014, 6:18:46 PM4/15/14
to Greg Bloom, openre...@googlegroups.com

My name is Stephanie Sanchez, I am the Statewide Director for 2-1-1 Colorado.

I work for Mile High United Way.

I have been with the 2-1-1 program for 9 years.

 

I’ve been stockpiling all the emails and just finished reading one month’s worth of conversations HaHa

Interesting read, and it seems we are still drilling down on terminology, common needs & objectives and debating over perceptions and reality.

 

I agree with the challenges, not sure yet where I land on my choice of solution, so at present, I am a “lurker”.

 

I will close with one “perception vs reality”. Roads and libraries are not free. We all pay for them with our tax dollars. And I guess in many ways, that’s the heart of this project/topic, sustainability for the work we each do.

 

Stephanie Sanchez, CIRS
2-1-1 Statewide Director, Colorado
Mile High United Way
stephani...@unitedwaydenver.org

Check out the NEW Mile High United Way website at:
http://www.unitedwaydenver.org

Like us on Facebook!Follow us on Twitter!Watch us on YouTube!Network with us on LinkedIn!

From: OpenRe...@googlegroups.com [mailto:OpenRe...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Greg Bloom


Sent: Monday, April 07, 2014 2:29 PM
To: openre...@googlegroups.com

--

Burt Lum

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Apr 16, 2014, 4:02:52 AM4/16/14
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Aloha everyone,
I am out here in Honolulu, Hawaii and am the Executive Director of Hawaii Open Data, a startup non-profit working to advance open data principles in the Aloha State. I also lead the Code for Hawaii Brigade.

Since we already have Ohana at the core of this work I thought it might be good to have a token Hawaii person on the team. Note: I didn't say Hawaiian because that often gets confused with Native Hawaiian ancestry. 

In the open data work we are doing here, we found strong interest in creating an open data/referral system to support the social service sector. I am working with agencies here like the Institute for Human Services and the Interagency Council for the Homeless. 

We would help this effort in a number of different ways. There is a strong community of developers here interested in civic and social projects. We also have organizations willing to adopt whatever data standards come out of this working group. Personally I am interested in helping in any way I can to develop the open 211 data standard.

Thanks Greg for spearheading this effort and I am honored to meet all of you.

Mahalo!
Burt

Jim Christie

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Apr 16, 2014, 1:12:31 PM4/16/14
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Hi Everyone,

I’ve been the Information and Referral Coordinator at 2-1-1 Big Bend in Tallahassee, FL for about three and a half years.  I oversee two Resource Specialists who help maintain our program data.  We use IRis 4.0.  I also maintain our Intranet and Internet websites and am involved in a number of different community collaborations on behalf of the agency.   My degrees are in communications and information technology.   Prior to joining 2-1-1 I worked for a consulting firm mainly in the education data field (Reading First, No Child Left Behind, student assessment data, etc.).  Before that I was a website/database manager for state government.  I’m mainly interested in finding out more about the project, offering the perspective of a data manager for a small to mid-sized 2-1-1, and learning what I can to improve the field.

Thanks for allowing me to participate and I look forward to engaging in a robust discussion with all of you.

Jim

 

Jim Christie, MS, CRS
Information and Referral Coordinator
2-1-1 Big Bend, Inc.
P.O. Box 10950
Tallahassee, FL 32302
Direct: 850.617.6318
Fax: 850.617.6359
E-mail: jchr...@211BigBend.org
Website: www.211BigBend.org

Nate Falkner

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Apr 16, 2014, 1:39:05 PM4/16/14
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Hi all,


I am VP for Strategy and Head of West Coast Ops for Single Stop, a national organization spun out of the Robin Hood Foundation in New York City.

 

We work with partners across the country to provide coordinated access to benefits and services (both traditional state and federal benefits and community-based resources like food pantries, legal services, etc).

 

Since 07 we’ve developed partnerships in about a dozen states and touched almost a million students and families across the country connecting them with resources in excess of $2.5 billion….with more than 42 million American’s living at or below FPL and more than 50% of community college students dropping out b/c they can’t afford to stay we think the opportunity is significantly greater.

 

Very glad to be looped in and look forward to being part of the conversation!

 

Best,

 

 

Nate Falkner

Vice President of Strategy and Interim Regional Director, West Coast

Single Stop USA

369 Pine Street, Suite 503

San Francisco, CA 94104

www.singlestopusa.org

 

P: 415.391.7170

C: 646.919.6064

nfal...@singlestopusa.org

 

Notice-

This email including attachments is intended only for the use of the person or entity named above and may contain information that is confidential or legally privileged.  This email and its attachments constitutes non-public information intended to be conveyed only to the designated recipient(s) named above.  If you are not an intended recipient or a person responsible for delivering messages or communications to an intended recipient, you are hereby notified that the unauthorized use, distribution, or copying of this communication or any of the information contained in it is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by telephone at (212) 480-2870 and then destroy or delete this communication, or return it to us by mail if requested by us.

 

From: OpenRe...@googlegroups.com [mailto:OpenRe...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Jim Christie


Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 10:13 AM
To: OpenRe...@googlegroups.com
Cc: openre...@googlegroups.com; bl...@codeforamerica.org

--

Benjamin Y Clark

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Apr 18, 2014, 8:25:44 PM4/18/14
to OpenRe...@googlegroups.com, openre...@googlegroups.com, bl...@codeforamerica.org
Here goes for my introduction:
I'm an assistant professor of public administration and public health at Cleveland State University, as well as an adjunct informatics researcher at the MetroHealth Medical System (also in Cleveland). I am a former local government budget analyst, so I've got a real nuts and bolts/practical understand of local government management and operational constraints.

I have been conducting research on 311 systems and associated internet and smartphone applications for the last three years. The first stage of that research was trying get to better understand how these system distribute resources within the communities that use them (http://bit.ly/coproduction_par). From there I've moved more toward trying to understand how the data can inform government management (budget allocations and allocation of personnel across a city) and the extent to which they are or are not accurate. We have only just begun to scratch the surface of what is possible in explore the data being generate via 311--and I can see the same thing happening with 211 as well. 

Both 311 and 211 systems clearly help to streamline the process by which residents of communities can be connected with resources--which also means they can offer social science researchers great opportunities to test the effectiveness of outreach efforts. I am in the very very early stages of connecting with the 211 system in Cleveland to figure out how to do some of these evaluations, but I don't see myself as being limited to just Cleveland as the data for other systems are likely just as open and available and may offer similar opportunities. 

I'm very open to collaborating with people from across the country who have analytic or program evaluation needs. I'd be particularly interested in seeing collaboration across 311 and 211 platforms. Cleveland has a non-functioning 311 system so that integration is likely very very very very far off here.

I'm not a coder in the sense that many of you are (though I do write copious lines of code to run my stats programs). I have extensive experience in econometric modeling and have numerous spatial econometric modelers working with my at the university should a need for that of thing come up.

-Ben Clark
e: b.y.clark [at] csuohio.edu


On Monday, April 7, 2014 4:29:10 PM UTC-4, Greg Bloom wrote:

aa...@geauxpoint.com

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Apr 22, 2014, 12:05:56 AM4/22/14
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Hi guys,

I’m very excited to be participating in the Open Referral project. As some of you may know, I have been promoting integration in I&R for quite some time. From my long experience in the software industry, it is has always been clear to me that the technology is critical in I&R.

I have been involved with most of the integration work in I&R thus far. However, the industry still has a long way to go. AIRS has been driving the process, and I have supported the organization as much I have been able. I started a consulting practice in 2008 and have strived to deliver strong solutions to clients across the I&R space and beyond. 

So far, progress has been intermittent and there is no definite path to completion. I have always believed that in order for timely progress to be made with integration, the initiative would need a large “dose” of leadership.

With the introduction of the Open Referral initiative entrance in I&R, the reality of integration has become tangible. I think that some of the work I have completed toward the initiative can be put to use for this group's purposes. For example, I custom-built a Saleforce.com information-management system for Help Me Grow that generated considerable buzz in the network. I was invited to demonstrate the effectiveness of the system in front of several Help Me Grow executives, and the platform was well received. I believe this kind of success can be re-created for all of I&R.

My observations regarding the I&R environment are shaped from years experience performing integration in the software industry. I worked at NetSuite for more than three years managing their SaaS integration strategy. Additionally, I have completed 200 enterprise-level and non-profit Salesforce implementations.

In light of this experience, I have given considerable thought to how integration in I&R might play out and what the path to success would be. I believe that the first steps would be to identify use-cases for integration within I&R, and have already begun work to identify these. Afterward, there are numerous paths to success worth discussing.  

Now that integration in I&R has become imminent rather than eventual, I wish to support the initiative as much as possible. Look forward to collaborating with you all! 


Regards,

Aaron


Aaron G. Blackledge

Lead Strategist

GeauxPoint

Message has been deleted

Kathy Kelly

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Apr 22, 2014, 1:25:26 PM4/22/14
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 Kathy Kelly Hi all. I'm director of information Resources and Technology at Findhelp Information Services or 211 Central Ontario. I'm originally from Detroit but have lived happily in Toronto Canada for many years. After years in the private sector working in Information Technology, I joined Findhelp in 2003 because I wanted my IT work to matter. We have a very supportive and collaborative I&R sector in Ontario and have done lots of great things together. personally, I am driven to use technology to remove barriers to service and to finding creative ways to do the impossible. 

stev...@west.cmu.edu

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Apr 22, 2014, 11:07:04 PM4/22/14
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Hello, my name is Steve Ray. Unlike most of you, I have no experience in the referrals area. I first heard about this group when Greg posted an inquiry on the Ontolog Forum mailing list, which is a list full of "ontologists" who use semantic modeling of varying degrees of rigor for various domains. Some use very formal languages such as Common Logic and other variants of first order logic, while others (like me) use less formal languages such as OWL (Web Ontology Language) that drives the so-called Semantic Web and much of the Linked Open Data world. I have some experience in creating OWL models, and in mapping between OWL models for the purpose of interoperability. I work with standards committees in various industry sectors such as the smart grid, manufacturing, and the "internet of things", and sometimes reverse engineer standards from other representations such as XML Schema or UML.

This project looks interesting as another domain that needs to interoperate among many data sources, and a neutral ontology to guide that interoperation could be a very good approach. Greg has mentioned that schema.org might be a useful integrating ontology, and I agree with him on that. The kinds of tools I use are OWL modeling tools such as TopBraid Composer (mostly) and sometimes Protege. These allow modeling as well as reasoning over the models. Given the need and the time, I could try some of these tools on this project's data.

My background is 27 years at NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) working on - you guessed it - standards; then 5 years free-lancing and working part time at Carnegie Mellon University way out here in California (yep, we have a campus at Moffett Field, where NASA Ames is located). Have also dabbled in disaster management data interoperability, although the first responder community is very far away from considering ontologies in their operational work.

I'm looking forward to learning more about what has already been done here, and what is planned for the future.

 - Steve

Cat Dwyer

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Apr 25, 2014, 10:24:15 AM4/25/14
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I'm a self employed management consultant and trainer based in NYC.  I have 20+ years experience in the Information and Referral industry, primarily in resource work. 


-- 
Cathleen Dwyer, CRS, CIRS
c...@cdkconsulting.com
www.CDKConsulting.com
Unlock your potential...
914-629-4972

Aaron Pikcilingis

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Apr 25, 2014, 11:24:57 AM4/25/14