Events >

#518 Online: The Resource Directory Dilemma: or, Why there isn't, probably won't be, and maybe shouldn't be a Yelp for Social Services


Greg Bloom, Founder, Open Referral
Mary Kuhn, Program Manager, Open Referral

One of the most common prompts for civic tech projects is: “Where can I go to get help?”

In any given community, you’ll find information about human services available through call centers, printed directories, web sites, and more. However, these information resources are typically maintained in fragmented, redundant silos.

We’ve seen more than a decade of efforts to solve this problem emerge from volunteer spaces like Chi Hack Night, as well as startup incubators and government challenges and so on. And yet this problem is not solved; if anything, the problem is worse. We have more and more sources of less and less trustworthy information. Why?

In this talk, we’ll explain what the resource directory information problem really is all about, why it resists simple solutions, and what we can do about it. We’ll introduce the Open Referral Initiative, which has developed standards and tools for interoperability among resource directory information systems, and helps communities develop strategies for managing this information in sustainable open infrastructure. And we’ll consider the landscape for service directory information here in Chicago, and how we might develop holistic and appropriate strategies to address this wicked problem.

ASL This event will not have an American Sign Language interpreter.