Monday, April 30, 2012

Major Code Release

Was a busy weekend at VisionLink headquarters! A significant amount of code was released for both immediate use and future releases to come.

Newly released features focus on the client intake and case management tools, an improved service tracking and referral tracking tool, a number of form builder tools to further enhance workflow flexibility, and more.

This new code also includes the completely rebuilt Homeless Management solution (phase one of two), a new outcomes tracking module, a newly enhanced volunteer module for the Coordinated Assistance Network (CAN), new client assistance tools for the Red Cross and CAN, and a number of features for 2-1-1 users across the United States.


A call out to the Development Team, the IT team, and the Quality Assurance team is more than well deserved. It is something I wish I could convey better through this blog--the impressive sight of the entire team working as one synchronized operation.

It is a wonderful challenge to build solutions that integrate seamlessly a wide variety of community solutions from disaster relief to mortgage assistance, from information and referral to elder care support services and much more, and to do so for customers who respond to so many thousands of requests each day.

By doing so, however, we help our customers provide more effective and coordinated services to their clients across their entire service area. This means they can reduce the cost of technology, leverage their resources more effectively, and improve client service all at once. Our customers are the thought leaders who are clearly re-defining the standards of community assistance, and we thank them again for their detailed suggestions and refinements.


Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO
VisionLink, Inc.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Red Cross - FEMA Shelter Data Exchange

Pleased to report that the VisionLink team, and on behalf of FEMA a team from IBM Global Services, are completing their work building a two-way, automatic data exchange between the National Shelter System deployed by the American Red Cross, and the Shelter System deployed by FEMA.



Thanks to this regular and constant data exchange, FEMA can benefit from the 60,000 plus shelters managed by the American Red Cross as part of the Red Cross capacity to help Americans during disasters.  Similarly, shelter data updates from FEMA can be shared with the Red Cross.

In times of crisis, shared and accurate data is at a premium. Redundancy counts, too. These two integrated systems provide a powerful level of fallback should anything happen to either critical system during regular or crisis level operations.

You can learn the status of any currently open shelter by going to the Red Cross Shelter Map, or you can download a free iPhone app (contributed by VisionLink to the Red Cross). The American Red Cross National Shelter System and the data exchange are deployed from VisionLink's Community Operating System (CommunityOS).

Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO
VisionLink, Inc.




Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Regional CAN Conference: Los Angeles

VisionLink's Lois Ann Porter and Rene Alvarez are supporting lead staff from the Coordinated Assistance Network (CAN) today and tomorrow at a regional CAN Convening being held for representatives from the LA Region.

Participating organizations include the American Red Cross, UMCOR, all of the Southern California Red Cross Chapters, Salvation Army, Islamic Relief, LA County Social Services, Emergency Network LA and others.

The purpose is to build on best practices and build capacity of regional organizations to provide coordinated assistance to those affected by a large scale disaster in the LA region. The work reminds us all that the professionals and volunteers ready to help during disasters are ready because of the work they do to prepare and plan--important work that is seldom seen or acknowledged.



The Coordinated Assistance Network is a membership of more than 1,000 members who work together to provided coordinated assistance to disaster survisors.  This kind of assistance improves client service, leverages donor resources, and mitigates fraud.  CAN's uses VisionLink's Community Operating System (CommunityOS) to deploy an always active, always ready nation-wide solution.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Texas 2-1-1 Moves Forward!

The good folks who make 2-1-1 Texas work every day and for every community are to be commended for their progress towards an efficient and effective statewide solution.  The first group of five Area Information Centers went online on March 1st, another set on April 1st (Yes-we survived the Fools Day Jokes), and another set will go online next week, as we greet the month of May.

All 25 Area Information Centers will be online later this summer as we bring on approximately 5 new centers every month. Kudos to the data conversion efforts by the technical team at VisionLink, and thanks to the resource managers at each AIC. Moving data from 25 separate systems into one is going quite well.

We are also working on several features and enhancements so that call operators used to different software systems can use workflows and tools similar to their prior experience. In addition, we are beginning to deploy the Portal architecture of CommunityOS to meet both the similar and the different needs of each region across the state. Portals provide the opportunity to support different initiatives in different communities, alongside their common 2-1-1 work, yet all on one cost-effective platform.

We are doing all of this while Texas 2-1-1 remains online and working in real-time. In fact, the 2-1-1 specialists across the state respond to nearly 3,000,000 calls each year!  

Again, well done Texas! A software conversion like this has never been done before at this scale for 2-1-1.  Your tenacity and talent is paying off well, and the people of Texas will benefit.



Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO
VisionLink, Inc. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

TAACCCT Grantee Focus Group / Reception

On behalf of TAConnecT, VisionLink's Lois Ann Porter conducted a focus group at the AACC (American Association of Community Colleges) Convention: Igniting Innovation, and hosted a well attended networking reception.

TAConnecT is a source of neutral information relevant to a major, nation-wide federal program designed to improve community college education. At the core, this initiative is about shifting a community college system that successfully provides open access to further education, to one that is even more aligned with the needs of the labor market, and the courses and credentials that lead to good jobs and careers in this increasingly global economy.

The focus group provided great insight that will help us design the most effective online tools for TAConnecT, and the most useful content from the perspective of community college stakeholders. We really appreciate the input from community college leaders from Ohio, Alabama, and Illinois--and we look forward to implementing their suggestions.

TAConnectT also hosted a networking reception for a wide range of leaders in this work. More than 60 people attended with representatives from organizations such as AACC, Achieving the Dream, Corporate Voices for Working Families, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Collaboratory, PPM Associates, H2P Consortium, Honeywell, the Partnership Contingency from Denmark, and a great range of community colleges and post-secondary institutions.




For more information about TAConnect, follow the link, or go to taconnect.org. For more information about other partnership building programs deployed through VisionLink's products and services, see our main web site, or email solutions@visionlink.org.

Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO
VisionLink, Inc.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

How Technology Increased Non Profit Funding in 2011 (Infographic)


Here is a wonderful infographic we discovered on how both email marketing and social media were able to increase Non Profit Fundraising in 2011!  There are some extremely interesting statistics here.



Thank you NTEN and M+R for teaming up to create such an informative infographic!  To read the full report or to view past studies, visit www.e-benchmarksstudy.com.

VisionLink, Inc.