VetHelp is a web based application for mobile devices that provides easy access to resources needed by homeless veterans and their care givers, when they need it and where they can get it. VetHelp is available at http://USGovXML.com:48121
VetHelp consists of the following screens:
Shelters - Provides the ability to search for shelters based on the county in NJ in which it resides and whether or not it has open beds. When the search button is clicked , information is sorted and a list of shelters matching the search criteria is returned. Data returned includes contact information, the name of the shelter, the name of the program and the type of population it serves. The closest shelters with the most open beds are listed first.
Data source: New Jersey Homeless Management Information System as per https://hmis.njhmfaserv.org/lst/?p=pol . Data is refreshed 4 times a day.
Jobs - Provides the ability to search for jobs based on keywords and/or MOC and/or location and when the job was posted. In addition, the user can search for jobs in nearby cities. The data returned for each job includes the job title, the employer and the age of the job posting. Additional details about the job are available by clicking on the job title which will open a window to the site that is sponsoring the job.
Data source: National Resource Directory as per https://www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov/ . Data is real time; no refresh needed.
Attorneys - Provides the ability to search for attorneys by City and State, County and State or within a specified radius of a zip code. Attorneys included in the listing are authorized to represent claims for VA benefits.
Data source: Downloaded from http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp . Data is refreshed 3 times a week: Tue, Thur and Sat in the am.
DAV Transport - Provides the ability to get a list of DAV Transportation facilities by state. Through the Transportation Network, DAV volunteers drive sick and disabled veterans to and from VA medical facilities for treatment.
Data source: DAV Health Service Coordinator Direcory as per http://www.dav.org/volunteers/documents/HSCDirectory.pdf and Transportation Services as per http://www.va.gov/VAi2/Resources_REACH.asp . Data for NJ is manually refreshed monthly.
Mental Health - Provides the ability to search for mental health facilities by state, city and state, county and state or within a specified radius of a zip code. The data returned includes the name of the facility, the city in which it resides, the telephone number and the name of the coordinator. The data source includes contact information for mental health facilities across the United States.
Data source: Export from SAMSHA site: http://info.samhsa.gov . Data is refreshed Sun am.
VHA Facilities - Provides the ability to search for VHA facilities by state, city and state, county and state or within a specified radius of a zip code. The data returned includes the name of the facility, the city in which it resides, the telephone number and the name of the coordinator. The data source provides a listing of all VHA owned facilities including contracted and leased sites.
Data source: Health Services as per http://www.va.gov/VAi2/Resources_REACH.asp . Data for NJ is refresh manually.
Health Centers - Provides the ability to search for federally funded health centers within a specified radius of a zip code. The data returned includes the name of the health center, its approximate distance from the center of the zip code, its address and web site.
Data source: HRSA Geospatial Data Warehouse (HGDW) as per http://datawarehouse.hrsa.gov/ . Data is real time; no refresh needed.
Hotlines - Provides contact information when time is critical.
Testing the Application - Since the application is web based, all that is required is any of the web browsers specified in the challenge and a connection to the internet.
In order to make the best use of the limited screen “real estate” on mobile devices, the technique of “information hiding” was employed. Information hiding attempts to show the most relevant information without scrolling. If additional detail is required, the user must take action to view less relevant information. For example, by default, contact information, the number of open beds and the shelter population is initially presented in the Shelters web form. If the user would like to know the agency or program that sponsors the shelter, they must click on the plus (+) sign to view additional information. Click on the minus (-) sign to hide the details.
Additional resources include the Google Map and Geocoder APIs; the U.S. Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) XML Service; the 2010 ZCTA to County Relationship File; the ZIP Code Tabulation Areas File.
Keeping the DAV Transport databases up to date is problematic because its original form is a Microsoft Word document. Not only would a tool need to be developed that would allow the data steward to create / maintain entries, approval to use such a tool on a going forward basis would also be required. If I were to create such a tool, the format of its data extract would be consistent with the data structure of my app so my app would not have to change.
For purposes of my entry, I have used the DAV Transportation facilities file provided by the challenge (with manual updates for changes in NJ data). I have also provided a link to the current DAV HSC Directory.
Contact: Robert Loftin; 530 Bellwood Park Road; Asbury, NJ 08802; Tel: (908) 388-1121; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org