Resubmission: 5/2/2012 We have addressed the feedback from VA and are resubmitting our entry. New information as to how we addressed the issues on our website url as well as instructions to update the iPhone/iPad application
Qbase is pleased to submit a response to the Project REACH Mobile Challenge. In order for this application to be useful, several elements are needed to fuse the data and make the it work with mobile applications, including: 1) Data Quality: The available data that was made available for this challenge has many quality issues such as misspelled address information and missing key attributes, such as city and state. 2) Mapping: Not all the available data was “GeoCoded”, this limits information used when searching for services physically located near the device, as each entry lacked a latitude and longitude coordinate. 3) Inventory Management: A solution is needed that allows for future integration of shelter reservation systems, provides a means to allow shelters to update their bed inventory in real time, and provides a way to make the inventory information available to users of the mobile applications. 4) Expandability: Any provided solution has to be flexible and scalable to allow for other regions, areas, and services to be added with little or no change to the overall design making this App universal and transportable to anywhere in the United States. Our solution addresses each of these four major characteristics and provides for a mobile solution that allows for dynamic, real time updates of bed inventory and service information from both our website and iOS applications. We tackled the data quality and mapping challenges by implementing a comprehensive, configurable, and repeatable “Extract, Transform, and Load” (ETL) process. This process is able to read, process, clean, and geo-encode the sample data feeds and making it available to both our website and mobile apps. Through this process, users of our application can access real-time data based on their location as determined by a device’s GPS system, or by entering in a complete or partial address that is of interest to them. The challenge of real time bed inventory management was addressed by creating a separate application for registered users in charge of services. This application will be able to update bed counts from an app in real time, effectively creating a shared bed management system that all shelters can use. Shelters using this application can simply add or subtract available beds within the app and that information is instantly available to users of the information application alerting them of bed availability. Our design and implementation allows for the application to be expandable, as it is not designed to be specific to any specific location. With access to data sources from various regions we can apply our ETL process, populate our data repository, and provide the same functionality of bed inventory management and searching for resources and services anywhere in the United States. This means our solution is prepared to support a broader community beyond an initial pilot in New Jersey. Only access to information is needed versus having to redevelop the application to serve a broader community. Our initial project focus is on the development of a website compatible with all the major browsers including Internet Explorer, FireFox, and Safari, as well as the iPhone and iPad platform using iOS 5.1. If we are selected to move to Phase 2, we are prepared to replicate the iPhone/iPad solution on the Android platform thus covering the majority of devices available in today’s market and to expand our website to cover all functionality within the mobile application space.