The StreetMessenger was created by VCN (a charity) because they briefly struggled with the burden social service agencies deal with daily — the need to rapidly send information about supports available for street and marginalized survivors in a way that will be read and acted on in real time.
The VCN offices work out of Woodward’s in the DTES; they were posting the Extreme Weather Shelter sheets in the window. It didn’t take long to realize that nobody looked at the posters and that email was just as useless for time-sensitive info. The tech charity decided to begin working on the StreetMessenger. With funding from the Canadian Internet Registries Authority and Innovation in Homelessness (ESDC), they’re now able to make this very easy to use text-messaging platform freely available across Canada so agencies can save money and time on outreach, with more effective and wider-reaching results.
I hope you can tour the site – or take a moment to watch a quick video hosted by Judy Graves.
An new and very exciting feature of the system is the Shelter Bed Availability Map. The map icons display the number of beds available in the shelter at that location (and set to zero at 11pm). The numbers can change as the beds are taken with a simple text message to the system from the front line staff. It is currently being updated by bc211 during their twice daily call-outs.
Tracey is available via email to answer any questions – firstname.lastname@example.org.