Connecting people in need with the services they need should be as easy as finding show times for movies. Regrettably, it is not.
Why problem motivates us?
In the US, there are nearly 23 million social workers, police officers, teachers, nurses, and other public servants who regularly connect people in need with the services they need: overnight shelter, medical assistance, mental health treatment, and more. However, these professionals most frequently must rely on word-of-mouth referrals, printed paper directories, and hours upon hours of Googling to do so, resulting in inefficient and, in some cases, ineffective care. In 21st Century America, this should not be the case.
Why does this problem exist?
The landscape of social services is constantly evolving: service eligibility requirements change, agency contact people come and go, programmatic offerings expand and contract based on agency funding, and so on. Most social service professionals are too busy to spend significant time collecting and validating such information personally, and most social service agencies do not have room in their budgets to invest in tools that would enable them to do so organizationally.
Various nonprofit entities have attempted to aggregate and deliver such information in printed directories, online portals, or call centers, but they have generally struggled to keep their data up-to-date because of the considerable technical challenges involved and their associated costs. Moreover, potential for-profit vendors of such elusive information are competing against “free” services that have existed, in some cases, for decades: word-of-mouth referrals, paper directories, and online search engines.
How is Johego solving this problem?
Johego uses cutting-edge data science and grassroots community organizing to prioritize, collect, and verify information that is needed most by social service professionals. We deliver this information in the form of a free smartphone application and, soon, a free browser-based web application. You may download Johego’s free smartphone application on iOS and Android, here:
What is our progress to date?
Since early 2017, Johego has been successfully using this approach with social service agencies throughout northeast Missouri, including Families and Communities Together, which paid Johego to release our smartphone application in their region and to train local social service professionals how to use it. Johego's smartphone application has been downloaded hundreds of times on iOS and Android, and thousands of search data points have been recorded, resulting in highly localized data that help inform policy decisions throughout the region.
What has the feedback been like from the community?
“Thank you for your dedication! We’re all very excited with how it turned out and I look forward to the growth of this project.” — elder care professional (Hannibal, MO)
“Thank you for all of your work on the community resource guide. It will be so nice to have this at our fingertips when we are trying to help our patients! We discussed the app at the Hannibal Alliance for Youth Success meeting this morning and I downloaded it.” — healthcare professional (Hannibal, MO)
“As a medical social worker in a busy emergency department, I am constantly asked for resources for patients. However, due to the nature of my work I have very little time to investigate the resources I am providing. Johego’s app would be extremely helpful as it would have all of the resources in one place, as well as real time reviews and information about the agencies and the services they provide. Johego’s app will make me feel more confident in the information I am providing.” — professional social worker (St. Louis, MO)
Why else should you be excited about Johego?
During the launch of our pilot program in northeast Missouri, we encouraged and empowered users of our software to notify us when social service information changes. By processing such information in a streamlined fashion, we have been able to verify and update our directory within 14 hours on average, compared to many paper- and web-based directories that are updated only on an annual basis.
By helping public servants be more efficient, Johego will save governments and nonprofits tens of millions of dollars each year, but this is only the beginning of our potential impact. As people use our smartphone application to search for social services, we will confidentially and anonymously record the time, location, and nature of such inquiries, resulting in unprecedented real-time monitoring of social needs. In the longer term, such data will enable us to predict when and where particular services will be needed most.