layout: post title: "Nulla vel risus dapibus" date: 2013-05-22
(this is my personal views, not of my employer, I don't reflect all views of my employer, etc) (this is also my initial impressions, and like a draft, sort of reflects a stream of thought that is slightly organizated for easier reading)
As food pantry operator, employee local social service agency that directly helps the poor which does plenty of referrals, and someone who is interested in how the internet and open data affects people's interactions with the governments and non-profits, I read the news of the Open Referral project by technical.ly DC with a mix of skepticism, intrigue, and optimism.
Here's my initial impressions:
good idea and long overdue.
Convincing NGOs to spend the time/ resources to ETL will be hard; someone else scraping their sites is not a concern of them. I'm not sure why this was mentioned. Yes, old information exists on the internet, but I doubt that an open API will fix this.
As I've developed Marillac, a web map to help pantry refer clients to other ,
A big hurdle for implementation of this: There's the lack of technical literacy on volunteers and non-profits. Social service agencies are generally not well-funded and funding is usually prioritized towards programming. The technical skills to do ETL (extracting, transforming, and loading) to transform an organization's data into the OFP spec is behind most .
It's hard justifying to my boss to spend time on my .
Tech functions like an agency's website are generally outsourced to an outside contractor or for even some grassroots projects, their website may be a wordpress install or none at all. There may be that internal person who acts as tech support (like me).
The lack of technical literacy/net access for most clients in general so the web apps that would take advantage of things like an API, wouldn't be used as much by clients.
How this can get done?
In Cleveland, 211, operated by the United Way, is the most broadest aggregator of services that is similar to Ohana. In addition to being a refer , it also operates the 211 number, and . It has quite . In my experience, they've called me a few times
Of course, 211 is not perfect. My coworker who takes many clients' intake calls also has a large spreadsheet to fill in the gaps. (I should talk to her more and find out about the faults of 211)
Perhaps Cleveland's 211
I haven't used Ohana yet, but for it to be used by the Cleveland community organizations in the long-term, the following need to happen: - Convincing United Way to migrate to this, how it would outweigh the benefits of the current system.
must have a simple interface for less tech saavy people to be able to update their listings
Have intuitive support for printing. One of the most overlooked aspects in civic technology is assuming that print is dead. (This could be a whole post, so some very brief points). People can't remember URLs, don't always have access to the internet, and some just prefer to have information available and read it on paper.
If it wants to be used, it should Ohana can be eventually
If a client at my pantry ever asks me to , (I usually refer them to call 211 or my office (Society of St. Vincent De Paul)l