Providing services for homeless populations in the United States involves funding from federal, state, and local governments. Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS) track citizens, funding, and operations across services. SpringML recently hosted a webinar with Google Cloud’s Public Sector Strategy Executive, Denise Winkler. In this webinar, she shares with us the importance of data management and the Golden Record for the Continuum of Care. Denise Winkler says in the webinar:
“ HMIS systems support organizations called the Continuum of Care which is the local planning body that coordinates Homeless services and funding. With multiple Continuum of Care within a State, aggregating data across systems and agencies is very difficult. An accurate understanding of the breadth of the homeless population much less the funding and services require aggregating data across Continuum of Care agencies. Being able to aggregate data will be critical to serve the most at-risk people in the most effective way possible and serve unprecedented caseload levels.”
Research data from 2020 shows that there are 38.1 million people living at or below the poverty line. With the unfortunate spread of COVID 19 and losses of incomes and jobs, these numbers are bound to rise. Prior to the pandemic, 567,715 individuals were homeless. With millions of people in the US filing for unemployment, economists from Columbia University predict that by the end of summer, there will be a 45% increase in the homeless population to 800,000 people. Agencies need systems to support this huge increase in case loads.
With the expected rise in at-risk and homeless populations, The Golden Record, the term used to describe aggregating data across agencies for social services, will be more important than ever.
The Golden Record provides a complete picture of a client as depicted in the diagram above where the data stored in Continuum of Care systems differs as in this example:
- The Homeless Shelter has the first name, date of birth and housing situation
- The Housing Authority has the first and last name, date of birth, email address and case manager
- A Food Bank, first and last name, date of birth, PO Box address, and phone number
The Golden Record collates all these data into a single data set of information about a client so that communities can make a bigger impact. Data aggregation is even more powerful at the State level allowing the Continuums of Care to identify services even across State lines.
“Data quality is a big issue. A Master Data Index allows a Continuum of Care to identify a client with probabilistic logic. Making that match allows you to achieve a Golden Record. All that information collected across different sources allows for deduplication of data about an individual client. This is the best way to provide the most services to those most in need.” says Community Technology Alliance Operations Director Javier Celedon.
SpringML helps social services agencies take advantage of cloud architecture and BigQuery to eliminate the need for archiving, backup, and all the standard IT activities. We leverage Data Fusion which is Google Cloud’s homogeneous tool for Data Integration to get a simplified view of data sourcing, storage, and analytics in the same homogeneous platform without the need to stitch multiple products together.
SpringML overcomes the initial resistance of migrating data to the Cloud with a well defined and frictionless process to quickly go through a set of tangible phases to bring data into a single cloud data lake and move to develop quickly.