Showing posts from March, 2010

New Customer 211 San Diego Presents at AIRS

We are pleased to welcome 211 San Diego to our VisionLink network.  It will be an honor to support their work!

If you are planning on attending this year's AIRS conference you will be able to enjoy a number of worthwhile workshops from these good folks at 211 San Diego.  For that matter, if you have not yet registered for the conference, here are 7 more reasons to do so:

Managing Disaster Relationships
Presenter: Thomas Bennett, 211 San Diego, California
This course will provide an overview of governmental organizations and agencies for which they should develop and maintain relationships.  It will detail the methods, values and benefits of those relationships both long and short term.  (Tuesday, May 25, 10:30am – 12:00am)

2-1-1 at Times of Disaster (Emerging to experienced collaborations: Local, regional, and nationwide response strategies)
Presenters: Terri Brock and Luease Graham, Centerpoint Community Services/2-1-1 Connections, Shreveport, Louisiana; Denny Huff, Council of Community Services, Roanoke, Virginia; Mona Freels, 2-1-1 San Diego, California
A varied panel of providers, representative of small, mid-size and large organizations, will discuss their experiences in developing, implementing and reviewing a comprehensive disaster program.  Panelists will provide an interactive environment where participants can learn best practices regardless of organization size.  (Tuesday, May 25, 2:15pm – 3:45pm)

IS-700.a NIMS; An introduction (Part 1 & 2)
Presenter: Thomas Bennett, 211 San Diego, California
This course introduces and overviews the National Incident Management System (NIMS).  NIMS provides a consistent nationwide template to enable all government, private-sector, and nongovernmental organizations to work together during domestic incidents. At the end of the second workshop, the attendee will be able to complete the FEMA IS 700.a exam.   This successful completion will certify their familiarity with NIMS/ICS emergency management system. (Note that Part 2 must be completed to take the test).  (Wednesday, May 26, 9:00am – 10:30am & 2:15pm – 3:45pm)

I&R Excellence Through the Six principles of Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC).  Be First!  Be Right!  Be Credible!
Presenters: Trisha Steiniger, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg, Virginia; William York, 2-1-1 San Diego, California
When disaster strikes, ANY information is empowering, that is why it’s so important to get out GOOD information quickly.  Communication is a broad science and imperfect art but, these 6 principles of Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication will guide your planning ahead of disaster.  Crisis Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) training will provide the nuts and bolts of crisis communication planning and the tools necessary to implement an effective communication response during a crisis or emergency risk situation.  (Wednesday, May 26, 10:45am – 12:15pm)

Learning to Use Commercial Call Center Philosophies and Experience in Social Service and Disaster Call Centers
Presenters: Mona Freels and William York, 2-1-1 San Diego, California
High-end commercial call centers across the globe have accumulated a huge amount knowledge, operational management experience, standards for the domestic call center’s operation and management indicators, inbound /outbound flow traffic handling techniques, call center cost control, staff recruitment, management process, personnel and training programs in order ensure their success in a competitive global market. They have laid a mighty foundation.  (Monday, May 24, 3:15pm – 4:45pm)

In the meantime, I&Rs across the country are still asking the question, “Are we a call center or a social service?”. And the answer is… “Yes, we are a call center that delivers social service and disaster information.” We should take advantage of this mighty foundation, millions of dollars of research, real world experience and the insights of commercial call centers. In this presentation, we’ll discuss the need for, techniques and strategies to provide more extensive, competitive and innovative I&R service based on the methods of American Express, Cox Cable and other award-winning commercial call center operations.

Food Stamp Outreach – It’s Not Just a Referral Anymore
Presenters: Mona Freels, Bill York and Claire Oksayan, 211 San Diego, California
Learn how to go beyond standard referrals to your local Food Stamp office by providing Food Stamp outreach to clients that increases revenues to your local economy and increases revenues to you. Practices that have helped 211 San Diego work closely with their county to improve Food Stamps (SNAP) throughout the region.  (Wednesday, May 26, 9:00am – 10:30am)

Phone System Efficiencies through Technology:
How Cloud Computing Can Improve Services and Flexibility

Presenters: Rodney Sackett and Mona Freels, 211 San Diego, California
Call centers today are faced with extraordinary decisions when it comes to technology needs. Many solutions can be expensive to purchase and sometimes even more expensive to implement. In this discussion we are going to walk through all the “cloud computing” technology changes made at 211 San Diego and cover our successes, challenges and why we made the decisions to change. (Wednesday, May 26, 10:45am – 12:15pm)

It's like a comprehensive course in a single conference!   Many, many other courses and workshops are being offered at AIRS 2010 as well.

VisionLink will be presenting, too, or stop by and say hello at our booth.

Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO

Veterans AHAR for Homeless Management

We are pleased to announce another tool for those managing Homeless Coalitions, funded by HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development).

The AHAR now allows users to run the report for Veterans Only (or, as previously, for all non-veterans as well.

The AHAR tool is designed to assist Continuum of Care jurisdictions in preparing data to submit to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development for their annual report to the US Congress.  Our release notes are available in the Customer Resource Center.

It is increasingly clear to us that communities need to integrate their homeless prevention strategies with other community partnerships, such as elder care, information and referral, and so forth.  An integrated response reduces the costs of data collection and management, decreases the costs of software and hardware, reduces fraud and duplication, and improves client service.  Can't get much better than that! 

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

Compliments Connect

We recently launched one of our new customer's sites, and our lead contact there sent back a wonderful note:

"I'd like to say what a pleasure  it's been, working with your staff.  [They] have been amazing.   At all times, they have maintained the sense of confidence and of support that our technology team felt from day one. The availability and expertise of your staff is so appreciated."

I greatly appreciate comments like this.  It reminds us all that the work we do in our offices is directly related to the work our customers can do in theirs.  In a positive working space, everyone does even better work. 

We have as our goal to provide deliriously great customer service, and to that end we have strengthened our account management operation and the integration of our internal teams that work with our customers (really partners--that's how we see those we work for).  We are adding additional resources in this area as well.

Our mission is to provide the most advanced and flexible software to connect people with community assets, and to do so in a way that keeps reducing the cost of technology.  When we do that, we free up resources that can be used by the customer for their mission--not technology.  And that's the point. 

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

Revised QPR for Homeless Management HMIS

Responding to revised specifications from HUD, we are pleased to release a revised Quarterly Progress Report.  The logic tables have been updated to the revised specifications, ensuring accurate and useful reporting tools for Homeless Management users.

There is more!  We have also improved the data set up process for HMIS records related to the QPR, and cleaned up several data entry steps.  A click saved, is a coffee break sustained (or something like that.)  Seriously, though, these are important reports for decision makers, program staff, and funders.  It merits increased quality and increased ease of use.

Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO

New Customer: Jobs for the Future

We are very pleased to welcome Jobs for the Future to the VisionLink network of partners across the United States and around the world.

Jobs for the Future identifies, develops, and promotes new education and workforce strategies that help communities, states, and the nation compete in a global economy.  JFF is the authoritative source for best practices, policies, and research across a wide range of workforce and educational issues.

In the "company you keep" category,  JFF is supported by some of the most preeminent foundations, including the following: 

The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
The Ford Foundation
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
The Hitachi Foundation
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Lumina Foundation for Education
MetLife Foundation
Microsoft Corporation
The Prudential Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The Wal-Mart Foundation

JFF is deploying VisionLink's Community Operating System to manage national best practices, and as a suite of tools for internal coordination and data and document sharing.  We are very pleased to welcome JFF aboard.

Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO


Thanks to a wonderfully coordinated effort (no pun intended) by both the national CAN staff and VisionLink's development, Q&A and Help Desk staff, the new national Coordinated Assistance Network solution has been released across the Web. 

This major rebuild provides client I&R and case management portals which match the FEMA disaster regions, communication tools that support both nation-wide messaging and disaster specific needs, and extraordinary security and permission tools that provide granular controls over portal access and client record access.

In addition, a great deal of useful resources, libraries of information, online tutorials and much more have been added to this national system.  This is literally the nation's most advanced multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional solution for coordinated disaster relief and recovery.  I doubt that the founding members of CAN ever envisioned it's rapid growth, to what is now some 1,300 affiliated partners.

Built to respond instantly to the changing dynamics of real disasters, content, forms, client registries, case management tools, dashboard reports and much, much more can be dynamically and instantly adjusted to meet the needs of a national disaster, or to the meet the needs of many smaller disasters simultaneously.  With this kind of flexibility, needs can be met more coherently, and the technology can become only an enabling tool--while the focus can stay on those in need.

VisionLink is truly honored to support this extraordinary partnership with CommunityOS.

Dr. W. Douglas Zimmerman
President & CEO

Congrats to Bay Area CAN

We wanted to congratulate the staff and partners of Bay Area CAN for a successful launch last week!

This partnership focuses on powerful client management tools, including a shared disaster client and resource information database, working across nonprofit and faith-based organizations in the ten county area around San Francisco.  These counties include:  Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano, and Sonoma.

Organized through SFCARD, the founding partners include the Bay Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, the San Fransisco Department of Emergency Management, the United Way of the Bay Area, 2-1-1, the Salvation Army, the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD), and the Fritz Institute.

This is an extraordinary advance, supporting both locally driven needs, and the option for full integration with national responders and partners should a large scale disaster occur.  The Community Operating System solution provided by VisionLink supports the entire range of work across the planning, response, and recovery stages of disasters.   This is the same community integrating solution used by others for HMIS, elder care, youth opportunity, information & referral, mental health, crisis line and other initiatives where client and community resources can and should be more effectively and efficiently coordinated.

Again, congratulations and welcome aboard, we are honored to support your work.

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