THE PROBLEM:

  • The IHS outreach Team received over 3000 homeless referrals in FY 2016.
  • The IHS outreach Team DOES NOT HAVE a mobile Web App to use when assisting homeless clients.
  • The transient nature of the homeless population makes it Necessary to have agile tools to use while responding to community referrals.

THE SOLUTION:

  • The Halea team developed a mobile device that any user can use to submit a report with a photograph of a homeless person, map coordinates that pinpoint where an encampment is located, and other descriptive info.
  • Once the report is submitted via a mobile device to a secure system, the IHS outreach team can log-in to view the reports and prepare to take action.
  • This system would connect to IHS’ in-house database.
  • Future programming enhancements would include adding a facial recognition feature to the admin section of the site, that would identify if a client’s photograph is already located in the system.

OUR INSPIRATION

Team Halea includes an eclectic mix of professionals who have all made their way into the web/mobile development world by one way or another. The path that ultimately brought us together is the Hawaii Annual Code Challenge, and we are now unified by a desire to use our skills and talents to make a positive impact on statewide issues such as homelessness.

OUR RESEARCH

Our initial project research included face-to-face discussions with our client Kimo Carvalho, Director of Communications at IHS, email correspondence, connecting through the HACC Slack channel and studying IHS’ website.

A turning point in this project occurred when Kimo provided us a tour of the Woman & Family Shelter on Kaaahi Street. We were able to learn about the services that IHS provides to clients that help them get back on track into employment and permanent housing.

The tour also helped us to visualize more clearly how the solution would be used by stakeholders to interface with the homeless population. With the advent of the RAIL system, currently under construction, and concerns that the homeless population will become even more transient, such a tool would engage the community in keeping track of the homeless population. As a result, IHS outreach workers would be free to focus on the daunting task of providing valuable services.

WHAT OUR SOLUTION DOES

This app enables a mobile device user to submit a report with a photograph and GIS info to designate where homeless individuals are encamped. The reports will help the Institute of Human Services’ outreach teams by making it possible for additional referrals to be generated by the public. Once reports are submitted with a mobile device, the IHS outreach team will have the ability to log into a secure website to view all reports. The team is investigating the idea of developing a facial recognition enhancement to identify duplicative photographs in the database. This mobile app system would ultimately connect to IHS’ current database via an API.

CHALLENGES

We are a busy group of individuals who haven't worked together in the past, so it took a little while for us to get going.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

We produced a native iOS app and got a server running. We were also able to work closely with Kimo at IHS to identify his needs.

WHAT WE LEARNED

Everyone's busy. It's a little hard to collaborate and we definitely needed to focus on our app a little bit more.

WHAT’S NEXT

We are committed to using our skills to help find solutions to the homeless problem. We are hoping that the HACC will be an impetus to create additional collaborative opportunities for engagement in the future.

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