In late March 2018, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department was recognized by the Smart 50 Awards for implementing comprehensive and innovative strategies in working with our local homeless population and finding resources to address homelessness in our communities.
The Smart 50 Awards, in partnership with Smart Cities Connect, Smart Cities Connect Foundation, and US Ignite, annually recognize global smart cities projects, honoring the most innovative and influential work. This year, primary categories included governance, mobility, energy, citizen life, and networks.
The Sacramento Sheriff’s Department Homeless Outreach Team and Technical Operations Unit worked with software developer TerraGo to develop a mobile application to assist in reaching the homeless in our community. The application not only improves the quality of information for Sheriff’s Department services but also makes detailed homeless data available to our partner agencies for smarter services and policy-making. Here is how it works.
This project provides digital transformation of field reporting procedures and by making outreach data readily available to community partners. It will improve near-term and long-term outcomes for homeless individuals, families, and the community.
The application replaces paper forms and manual processes with smart mobile questionnaires and digital workflows. The mobile reporting app provides significant efficiency improvements for field officers over paper forms, manual data entry, and spreadsheets that were used previously. One of the most important benefits is the improvement of knowledge retention and information sharing as opposed to relying on the experience of individual officers. In the past, an officer’s retirement or transfer to another assignment often meant the loss of a great deal of community knowledge regarding people in crisis and what services might be effective for assistance.
The ability to share detailed data on homeless individuals and families to our partner agencies, such as the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance, Sacramento Steps Forward, and California State University, Sacramento Institute of Social Research, enables insights and intelligence that will help provide optimal services and education beyond traditional baseline enforcement. Policies, education, and enforcement can be better shaped with data-driven facts to prevent homelessness and provide transition programs.
Questions such as primary and secondary reasons for homelessness, duration of homelessness, addiction to drugs or alcohol, treatment programs, education level, sources of income, willingness to accept assistance, and more will allow the Sheriff’s Department Homeless Outreach Team and our partner agencies to create custom-tailored responses and strategies to provide services.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Technical Operations team had already deployed hundreds of mobile devices as part of an ongoing strategy to transition to paperless reporting and enable mobile collaboration in the field. The Homeless Outreach Team mobile application now provides cloud-based collaboration and field data collection that is more efficient provides continuously improving data-driven knowledge and enables data analytics to identify solutions to problems, both near-term and long-term.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department is proud of this achievement and continues to seek out additional technological advances to improve services to everyone in our communities.