Every community faces a similar challenge: there are many different kinds of health, human, and social services that are available to people in need, yet no one way that information about them is produced and shared. Instead, many organizations collect and structure community resource directory data in different ways — yielding redundant, fragmented silos.
As a result, it’s hard to ‘see’ the safety net. Many people never discover services that could help improve their lives. Service providers spend precious time verifying data rather than helping people. And without access to this information, decision-makers struggle to evaluate community health and program effectiveness. This yields underperforming systems that fail people and communities in tragic ways.
Open Referral is galvanizing collective action by 1) developing a new lightweight data exchange format — the Human Services Data Specification (aka ‘the Open Referral format’) — while 2) supporting locally-led pilots in which various institutional stakeholders are using this format to exchange open data and develop open platforms.
HSDS is designed to be interoperable with existing and emerging standards; it will be improved and validated through iterative feedback from our pilots.