Thursday, October 10, 2019

5 Billion Data Field Exchanges A Month

Five billion data field exchanges a month. Wow. 

What have we learned? That the structure of your data matters a great deal, particularly if you need data exchanges to be quick and inexpensive. To do that--one needs to structure the data correctly in the first place.

Dry topic? Sorry. Here is a fun animation to make it more interesting!  


Caution: the music starts up in scene three, and you'll be humming the tune later today. It's less than three minutes long.

Check it out here:

https://support.communityos.org/vl-video



More detail on Data Points

We track the traffic across our APIs by "data points" which is simply one data field exchanged one time. If a record with 50 fields on it is called 100 times, that would be 5,000 data points.

The amount of transferred data also depends on the amount of data in the fields that are exchanged or queried. Some fields may only have a few characters or a simple "yes" or "no." Other fields could have more lengthy eligibility information, and others could store tens of thousands of characters as in a time and date stamped notes field. However, to keep it simple, we ignore the contents of a field, and then count how many times it is used in an exchange.

Our API Builder makes this easier as well--as this turns forms into API endpoints with a few clicks. 

If we can help you become the hub for information in your area, let us know!  

Contact us at solutions@visionlink.org.






Tuesday, September 3, 2019

New Password Standards

None of us like passwords, well, except for the good that they do for us.

New research from NIST helps us to understand better ways to build passwords, and Visionlink has released an upgrade to its CommunityOS 2 platform in response.

The most fundamental change in the standards by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), is about the frequency of forcing password changes.  Survey says? Never. 

That's right: in common use, requirements to change passwords every 30 or 180 days, as examples, result in less secure passwords. 

The second major change concerns a previous recommendation to mix letters and numbers. Gone.  And again, this is because the complexity causes real-world users to use passwords that can be broken too easily, and also because automated password breakers can easily deal with something like "st0rmC1ouds."

Repeated patterns (aaabbbccc) and sequences of adjacent keys on keyboards (jklnm), and common passwords are further examples of what we all should avoid.

Visionlink's recent release is designed to provide an indicator (with both bar length and color) of a user's password strength. It also analyzes your password request and responds with reminders of what needs to be be improved. We may also force resets if old passwords do not meet our new standards. 

So, stay away from patterns and common names, colors, days of the week and letter and number replacements.  Go for long random passwords or phrases.  Use a password manager so you don't need to remember them all (and to manage a different password for every site.)

Stay secure everyone. 



Visionlink Supports Dorian Response

Visionlink systems are fully engaged with Hurricane Dorian response.  The National Shelter System is being used to help manage dozens of shelters in Florida--and states north, as Dorian continues along its predicted track.

NVOAD is deploying a new situational reporting module for some states from Visionlink, to better coordinate the activities of partner agencies.

The Red Cross has deployed Safe and Well, to help reconnect friends and family after the storm, and financial assistance and case management solutions from Visionlink as well.


If you would like to check on currently open shelters you can visit the public view of the Shelter System at the Red Cross: Map of Open Shelters.

Visionlink offers advanced, expertly-designed solutions including volunteer, gifts-in-kind, situational awareness, client intake, case management, and other modules for disaster response.  

Each can be deployed separately or as an integrated suite. 

Visionlink also provides the most advanced array of community services solutions to help communities organize and provide information about agencies and their services to individuals, families and through advanced data exchanges, to other partners working collaboratively. 

For the most advanced communities, Visionlink solutions can be deployed for both grey and blue skies (during and in between disasters) so that leading organizations can support day-to-day needs, and then with those same solutions, when disasters strike.  As we know, the most effective disaster relief solutions are those that are used every day. 


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Amazing Recovery Efforts for Hurricane Harvey


Visionlink is proud to support the work of National VOAD's Project Comeback in Texas with our multi-agency Disaster Case Management solution, helping case managers from 14 nonprofit partners assist more than 12,000 households. 

Under a federally-funded case management grant, the 14 non-profit partners achieved some unbelievable outcomes in the last 18 months:
  • 12,500 households served
  • 34,00 Texans in 33 counties
  • Connected clients to 10,000 services or referrals
  • Value of assistance to survivors was more than $38,000,000.
Using Visionlink's proprietary API Builder, National VOAD and the American Red Cross built a truly innovative solution to connect two systems to coordinate financial assistance. 

This connection enabled both agencies to coordinate millions of dollars of much needed financial assistance and deliver appropriate services to those most in need.

The case management module (which is part of a broader suite of disaster tools from Visionlink), was built with feedback from more than 50 voluntary agencies and dozens of thought-leaders in the case managment world. 

And the work continues!  Congrats to the agency partners, their leadership and the case manager professionals.

Learn more about the American Red Cross,  National VOAD and Visionlink.


Thursday, July 25, 2019

FEMA Partnership Day


Join us at the FEMA NVOAD Partnership Day!

This is an annual event designed to bring together governmental disaster agencies, non governmental agencies, faith-based organizations and private sector providers who support disaster responders.  Partnership day serves to familiarize everyone with the agency capabilities and technologies that are available when disasters strike. 


Visionlink attends due to our work with both government and non profit disaster agencies. We are pleased to provide systems used by both FEMA, and NVOAD and their member agencies. It is an honor to do so!

Our systems are designed to allow the emergency management community to work more effectively whether that is through intake, case management, volunteering, contributed goods and services--and coordinated multi-agency collaboration.

The event is open to the public and is being hosted at the national FEMA headquarters in WDC.  Learn more from FEMA and about NVOAD.


Friday, March 1, 2019

Tech Day at the Colorado Capitol

Visionlink was pleased to participate in the Tech - Blockchain Day at the Colorado State Capitol this week. Great times, meeting with other technical firms based here in the state, with representatives and senators, and with various legislative staff. 

We enjoyed a pleasant discussion with Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera as well, talking about 2-1-1, I&Rs, Disaster solutions, and our work to help connect non profit agencies and their clients.  Governor Jared Polis (below), spoke about the value of tech firms to the state and the critical nature of innovation and data security.



We also met some great folks working in adult and youth employment, enterprise level blockchain solutions and many others.  Now for all the follow up meetings...!

Your Visionlink Team

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Interoperability Made Real: Open Referral’s Data Standard for Resource Directories

Visionlink is dedicated to data standards and data exchange as a necessary part of supporting successful communities. While the value of community services data may have been defined in the past by the strength of the walls around it, today however, tremendous value comes from the ability to be use appropriate data collaboratively among partners.

Visionlink has authored and supported standards for nearly two decades. Working with ANSI, U.S. Homeland Security, CAN, AIRS, and others, we have enjoyed the opportunity to work with colleagues on their standards and to author standards ourselves. In the community services market, we have converted, migrated, and exchanged more data than any other provider.

We are excited to formally support Open Referral’s standardized protocols for resource data exchange. You can learn more about Open Referral at https://openreferral.org, and see documentation for their Human Services Data Specification and related API protocols here: http://docs.openreferral.org.


The core concept is that many organizations serve as both users and producers of information about community services of all kinds. Among Visionlink’s customers as examples, these organizations range from 2-1-1s and Information and Referral centers, to AAA and ADRC's, to youth employment, disaster relief, refugee and immigrant focused solutions, food pantries, and many others. The recent focus on social determinants of health adds even more energy to the conversation about exchanging and updating agency, referral and service data. Each of organization shares a common interest in making it easier to share resource directory information in real-time.

To their credit, we believe that the good folks working on the Human Service Data Specification (HSDS) – and associated protocols developed by Open Referral – can meet the needs of the field, and are well positioned to mature as the field evolves.  

Visionlink’s groundbreaking API Builder provides the foundation to support this standard, as it provides the real-time ability to convert simple forms into automatically deployed API endpoints for flexible, multi-purpose and multi-partner data exchanges.As this sector continues to evolve, we see ever greater needs to facilitate the responsible and effective exchange of community services data. 

Visionlink adds its voice to both the concept and the deployment of this standard. We encourage our partners and the community at large to join in this work. 

You can join in the conversation about Open Referral’s development yourself: their community is convened in this Google Group, and their technical conversations occur in their Github repository here. 

And of course, contact us at solutions@visionlink.org. Let's build systems of systems that leverage what we each do, to help so many more. 

Your Visionlink Team

Monday, February 11, 2019

February 11 is National 2-1-1 Day!


The next time you need help finding services go to 211.org, or dial 2-1-1.  You’ll love the people that will answer your call.

Visionlink is honored to support 10's of millions of searches and referrals every month for our 2-1-1 customers.  We also contribute the technology to support the United Way Worldwide’s National 2-1-1 Locator, where you can find the 2-1-1 that serves your location: http://www.211.org/.

We have a busy year ahead, supporting new solutions in Washington (State 2-1-1 and Crisis Connections), Indiana (Real Services as well as the entire AAAA network across the state), a new Addiction Recovery site for Wisconsin 2-1-1, converting jmany current customers to our new platform, and and thousands and thousands of Social Determinant Assessments. Plus of course, our work in disasters, volunteers, gifts-in-kind, and more. The most fun is when all of these projects connect back to 2-1-1 for community services. We are honored to work with our 2-1-1 partners and appreciate supporting your work!

Your Visionlink Team