4/14/12

Project REACH Mobile App Challenge

Resubmission: http://sherlockhomeless.org

Description of the app:

Sherlockhomeless.org is a mobile web app built on open source software including Ruby on Rails and jQuery Mobile. It runs on a wide range of desktop and mobile browsers (including those included with the iPhone and Android operating systems).

The app provides near real-time data on bed availability for shelters in Monmouth County via the ‘Project Reach Datafile’ provided by hmis.njhmfaserv.org. The app downloads the datafile hourly and updates the bed data with any changes. The location of some shelters are mapped with an icon representing the number of open beds. Bed data for all shelters is available by clicking or tapping on the ‘Beds’ menu item.

Information about local VA health services is available by using the ‘Health’ menu item. Some health resources are also mapped. Health data is updated hourly by parsing the results of the following query: http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/rpt_fac_list.cfm?sort=StaID&list_by=state&oid=NJ&factype=4

Information about local mental health services is available by using the ‘Health’ menu item. Mental health facilities are also mapped. Mental health data is updated hourly by searching the SAMHSA database via the following api call: http://info.samhsa.gov/api/views/z8sj-w7z2/rows.json?search=NJ

Information about local employment services and job opportunities is available by using the ‘Jobs’ menu item. The app provides real-time job search by querying the National Resource Directory Veterans Job Search API: https://www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov/home/api/veterans_job_search

Currently only the first 10 job search results are displayed. However, future features are planned that will allow users to navigate additional search results, and save their favorite search parameters.

Using the ‘Employment Services’ menu item on the ‘Jobs’ page provides information on local employment services. Local employment services data is updated hourly by querying the National Resource Directory API: https://www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov/api/v1/state/new_jersey

Information about local legal assistance services is available by using the ‘Legal’ menu item. Legal services data is updated hourly by downloading and parsing the search results from: http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp

Information about crisis hotlines is available by using the ‘Crisis’ menu item. Crisis hotline data was obtained from independent research.

Information about transportation assistance is available by clicking or tapping on the brown ‘car’ icons on the map. Transportation assistance data comes from: http://www.va.gov/VAi2/docs/DAVTransportation_DAV_2012-03-01.xlsx

Sherlockhomeless.org allows people who interact with the homeless to provide some data about their experience. Clicking on an empty section of the map brings up a prompt to log in with Facebook. After logging in via Facebook, the user can report an interaction with a homeless person. Facebook login is required in order to discourage misuse of this feature, and to provide a way to identify individuals in such cases. It also supplies a means for users to identify and connect with other people that are interested in the homeless. With enough use of this feature, it might provide valuable time-series data on homelessness encounters, as well as encourage users to get more involved in helping the homeless.

How to test the app:

In order to test the app, navigate to the following URL using a web browser on the device that is used to test: http://sherlockhomeless.org

I performed app testing using Safari for iPhone 4 running iOS 5.1, as well as Chrome for Mac.

Contact info: (contact info was removed prior to publication of the submission to keep email, phone etc. private)

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