•   almost 7 years ago

Shelter Bed Data

Hi. Since the contest is focused on one location in New Jersey, I'm assuming that anyone participating in this contest will descend upon shelters near JBJ Soul Kitchen (Red Bank, NJ) and try to find out what bed availability systems and data are available, etc. Rather than have a bunch of developers all asking these agencies for the same data, can the competition provide some guidance on what data is available? Or, are the app developers expected to design systems to collect this data? I'm mindful of the time of the shelter operators and others who might be the keepers of this data...

Steve

  • 34 comments

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    There is a national data base of shelter beds available through the Continuum of Care at the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. A partnership with the VA and HUD was developed a few years ago for homeless veterans shelter called the VASH Program. There are of course many other providers who are not listed in the CoC but this would be a good start for a national data base. There are local based CoC Coalitions throughout the nation that is required for funding from HUD and many states also require a local count of the homeless and shelter beds. Check with HUD, the VA and states Community Develpment programs. I hope this helps answer your question.

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    anyone find the specific data or links to any API's for this area?

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    VOA is also a great start, they need more funding to expand. Lets get congress to to get involved. E-mail all 435 of them to support The Veterans, They did vote to send us to war. Lets get a National referendum started

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    I contacted Monmouth County, NJ Social Services to try to track down the bed availability data. They are part of a Continuum of Care (CoC) that uses an Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) called AWARDS and provided by Foothold Technology.

    The bed availability data is available to the public (in as real-time as the providers update it) at https://hmis.njhmfaserv.org/. If you click on All Member Counties and sort on County, you can see the bed availability for Monmouth County.

  • Moderator   •   almost 7 years ago

    Also, check out the Update just posted with links back to data sets the VAi2 team found that may be useful: http://reachthehomeless.challenge.gov/updates/218

    The data sets themselves are available for download here: http://www.va.gov/VAi2/Resources_REACH.asp

    Good luck!

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    It would be nice to find the bed availabilty data in some type of API.

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    I agree with the last comment. It would be nice to be able to query the database and get the results in a machine readable form such as XML.

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    An API would be fantastic. I am going to try and parse and post for all to use.

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    Glancing at the example datasets from www.va.gov, the issue would appear to be geocoding the various addresses for whatever agency or resource. Then use these geocoded results from an app or website which compares your current location with the dataset to determine closest result. Is that it in a nutshell?

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    Just found out from Monmouth County that HUD is not open to making the web service interface available, at least for the contest.

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    Ramon C you are on the right path... :) too bad about the web service interface not being open for us to DEV against. can we get JBJ to push on them a bit to open it up?????

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    It's going to be very difficult to show real time bed data without some type of API or Web Service.

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    Subscribing -- I'm working on this issue in Albuquerque NM and I'm very interested in the solutions y'all create.

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    You'll note that the link with real-time bed availability data (see https://hmis.njhmfaserv.org) only points you to the phone number of the agency or shelter offering the bed. One thing we've learned in looking at systems like this in the past is that the last thing shelter operators want is clients showing up at their facility thinking there's space for them when there actually isn't. Beds that are "available" may have requirements (only veterans, only families, only members of certain support services, etc.). That's why systems like this prefer that people call to confirm availability before they come to the location. And usually, I believe they prefer that the social worker or other service provider make the call so they can not only confirm eligibility but actually make an appointment or a "reservation" for the client. People who don't have a home have to walk all over town trying to get resources, and it wastes a lot of time and effort. I hope anyone building an app as part of this contest looks to make the entire process more efficient and effective for clients and providers.

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    @Steve A - although that might be true the contest states

    "Creates a mechanism that allows for simple aggregation of near or real time bed availability at shelters local to JBJ Soul Kitchen, which is located at: 207 Monmouth St., Red Bank, New Jersey 07701"

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    How can someone achieve this if there isn't access to a constantly updated API?

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    Of course it's a shame we can't get all the shelters to use some open-source app to track the beds. It wouldn't be too hard to write code where you can swipe on tablets beds from available to occupied, and these client views would publish to a server view that anyone could query.

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    Agreed. This contest should be secondary to having a system in place that is for the people who run the shelters.

    I submit there should be a contest for creating easy to use apps to gather that info.

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    I believe that this is indeed the contest.
    The contest isn't to display a map with beds around the city based on an API, but to build the platform that gathers and delivers that information.
    At least that is my interpretation of it.

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    The contest seems illdefined from a technical perspective. There is no API, the datasets do not provuide what is asked in the contest, and the paltry list of requirements for the app to achieve are not written such that they cannot be misconstrued.

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    Agreed, without an API or webservice the main goal from what i read in the contest rules... to give a real time status on open beds... is close to impossible

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    I would respectfully disagree. I think you might be looking for something a bit too easy, such as fancy up a list of beds as given by an existing API. Where is the challenge then?!?

    I think the whole challenge is to go from nothing to a mechanism that does gather and provide that data. If somebody else could have made that API, why couldn't you as part of that challenge?

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    That would be quite a challenge. It would be very difficult to go from nothing to building a mechanism that collects that data somewhat real time for the entire country. Allthough the contest requires data around a specific area the goal was to be able to do this country wide.

    If you can build that I think you should get more then 20k. Good luck. But for me (West Coast) it would be very time consuming and cost alot of money for me.

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    Jean-Philippe, the fact of the matter is there already exists a system to track the number of free beds (as shown from the above links). The problem lies in the fact that HUD is unwilling to open that system up via an accessbile web interface of some kind (API or other) as also noted above.

    Reading the rules, and the title no less, I do not get the impression that we are required to develop a ground-up solution for bed tracking.

  •   •   almost 7 years ago

    From the discussion "Mobile apps for Homeless Vets ?", posted by a moderator:

    "... good Samaritan who sees someone in need and wants to know who to reach out for help. All of these people would benefit from having real time or near real time information about shelters, housing, and other available services in their area."

    This service exists, as Jonathan said, at https://hmis.njhmfaserv.org/.

    From the rules:

    "To provide software which can operate on smart phones and tablet devices that can simplify access to resources available to the homeless and the caregivers and caseworkers who serve them"

    The homeless and caseworkers wouldn't know how many beds are at the shelter, so they wouldn't be accessing the bed stats to update, but rather to inform. So the target audience is a consumer.

    But it exists. So I don't know now.

Comments are closed.