After rapid construction, state homeless data system goes live

After a rapid 15-week construction, the state commissioned the Homeless Data Integration System (HDIS) on Wednesday, establishing California’s first unified warehouse for roaming data.

Developed by the California Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council (HCFC) in collaboration with the state’s 44 Continuums of Care (CoCs) – regional planning bodies that deal with homelessness – the HDIS collects sometimes distant data on homelessness in a single repository. The state said in a press release that it offered “a comprehensive picture of efforts to tackle homelessness statewide,” allowing officials to answer questions about the provision and access to homelessness. services and the effectiveness of interventions. HDIS should also identify patterns of homelessness, “the use of services in all geographic regions and support efforts to identify and correct” the inequalities experienced by homeless people.

The system, the state said, has already provided insight into previously unavailable measures on people served by homelessness prevention services and those who have moved into permanent housing. More than a dozen state entities have been involved in the project since its procurement phase, including the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency (BCSH), the California Department of Technology, the California Government Operations Agency and its Office of Digital Innovation; and “heads of regional technical services” of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.

“You can’t fix what you can’t measure, and having a statewide data system will help us determine what works and what doesn’t, important information we can use to create accountability and strengthen our response going forward, ”Governor Gavin said. Newsom said in a statement.

“It’s a monumental step. Partnering with Local Care Continuums to establish the HDIS warehouse gives state and local governments greater visibility and a unified view of California’s homeless response system, ”said BCSH Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez, who chairs the HCFC, in a statement.

BCSH selected Michigan-based Plante Moran, one of the nation’s largest accounting, tax and consulting firms, in November to connect the state government with CoCs. The general objectives were to give the State a better visibility on their aggregated and generalized information; improve the state’s ability to report annually to the federal government; and better inform him about homelessness.

Plante Moran has leveraged aspects of solutions from at least four other companies for HDIS, including Seattle-based Amazon Web Services (AWS). Informatica, based in Redwood City, provided master data management and integration, for better data context and completeness; Snowflake, based in San Mateo, provided the cloud data / data warehouse system; and Seattle-based Tableau has helped government staff, data scientists and CoCs better understand and query the data collected without necessarily writing reports.

“I think what we’re doing here is something that none of the other states have attempted, to my knowledge, to put together what are basically over 40 different systems and different versions of the data. Understanding this data and examining it in different ways will hopefully allow COCs and States to target programs and use the data to enable decision making, ”said Mark Richards, Business Analysis Partner at Plante Moran. . Technical wire.

“Access to data and comprehensive solutions can play a critical role in preventing and tackling homelessness. AWS cloud computing technology can help states make more efficient data-driven decisions and respond faster to emerging needs, ”said a statement from Kim Majerus, Head of Education, United States, state and local governments for AWS. “We are proud to work with Plante Moran and other AWS customers to help California better understand and serve individuals and families facing a homeless crisis in the state. Among the takeaways:

  • It is not yet clear whether additional opportunities for IT vendors will be available to work on this system. Julie Lo, Executive Director of HCFCs, said Technical wire it’s likely that after the “very, very quick build” officials can take a break to figure out what’s next. The new system, she said, has “a robust set of uses that we will continue to exploit,” with analysis likely to be something “that we will pursue quite strongly.” On the software and build side, “TBD, more to come,” Lo said. “On the research side, I think it’s very promising.
  • Officials hope the new system, created with challenge-based and proof-of-concept procurement, inspires and informs other IT projects in the state. “I think we talked at the supplier sourcing stage about the utility, novelty and originality of how we chose the supplier and why it really allowed us, I think, to build this as quickly as we did, “Ali Sutton, BCSH’s assistant secretary for the homeless, said Technical wire. State data chief Joy Bonaguro said Sutton communicated the value of this process and the lessons learned to officials leading other state IT projects.
  • The “proof of concept model” of the system, which is part of a procurement that ran from April 3 to November 3. 30 last year, helped the department understand what the project would look like and how it would go ahead of the vendor selection announcement on November 9.
    “Helping us think about how we might build things before choosing a vendor has been incredibly valuable,” Sutton said.
  • Choosing to use existing resources (data that, although owned by local CoCs, did not need to be created) to be pulled into the data warehouse, saved a lot of time. “I think we can’t overstate how much it helped us do this as quickly as we did,” said Sutton. “Let’s use what we have and just use it a little smarter than we’ve been able to do in the past.”
  • Starting the conversation early on helped build buy-in. For BCHS, the discussion with CoCs started about two years ago and helped, Sutton said, “socialize the idea for a while about why it was so valuable.” It was crucial, she said, “because it’s their data to share with us.”

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