Why Use Mobile Technology to Help Conduct the Point in Time Count?
The annual Point in Time homeless census is a tremendous undertaking that provides critical insights about homelessness in a community, tracks progress towards goals of ending homelessness, and impacts the region's annual scoring in the NOFA. Traditionally, communities approach the street count using teams of volunteers armed with paper forms and clipboards. If you are visiting this site, you are considering switching to mobile. Here are some reasons to consider how Counting Us and the Regional Command Center can save time and make for a more efficient Count.
What is the Point in Time Count?
The annual Point in Time Count (PIT) provides an opportunity to identify how many individuals and households are living on the street, or in other locations not meant for human habitation, and what some of their key characheteristics are. Understanding the depth and breadth of homelessness helps communities, and the Federal government, target resources and policies effectively. The annual PIT count is how we measure our successes and further understand our challenges from one year to the next.
How much does it cost?
Pricing details for this service can be found here.
We have several providers that serve victims of domestic violence. How can we include them into the count process?
Simtech Solutions is a pioneer in building Excel-based data collection and reporting tools that enable domestic violence providers to participate in teh count without ever having to send confidential data anywhere. The state of South Dakota used Simtech's Excel-based tool exclusively for their data collection and reporting of homeless counts from domestic violence providers for their 2017 PIT count.
Can volunteers use their own device or do we need to rent or lease tablets?
The app is compliant with every modern mobile phone and tablet operating system including Apple iOS, Google Android, and Microsoft Surface operating systems. Most people have a device that can be used.
What if portions of our count are conducted in areas without Internet access?
No problem! Internet access is needed to download the app and register an account. When taking a survey without internet or data enabled, the app will provide an option to save the location in the phone, and then complete the survey. The survey can not be submitted, but can be saved as draft and then submitted where the internet is available. All surveys should be submitted before the end of the Count.
Some volunteers will be reluctant to use a mobile device and will likely stick with using paper surveys. How can this information be easily entered?
The surveys can be entered in via smart phones and tablets while also being able to be submitted via the Counting.Us website. We have some additional recommendations if using paper along with the app.
How will I know where people experiencing homelessness are in my community?
Each survey conducted is tagged with GPS coordinates - even surveys conducted in places where there is no Internet connectivity! This allows for mapping and reporting by census tract, HUD CoC, or other region types.
How does the mobile app facilitate the required reporting for HUD?
The Counting Us app submits survey data to the Regional Command Center. Count administrators can generate the Point in Time Summary Report with a couple of clicks or they can download the data and create their own reports.
What else will I be able to do with the data?
What are the chances that there might be a critical system failure that would prevent us from being able to use the mobile app for the Count?
The Counting Us app is what is referred to as a "native app" in that it is downloaded from Google Play or the App Store and runs on the mobile device of each and every participant. This is unlike some survey tools which might claim to be a mobile app, but in fact, are merely web-based forms running on the internet browser of each volunteer's smart phone. The difference in approach is substantial as a native app is inherently at less risk of failure given that each and every mobile device would need to fail for it not to work. An app that is running in a web browser however has a single point of failure - the server that is hosting the survey form.
How does Counting Us address security issues?
There are two main technical components of the Point in Time data collection framework, and we have rigorous protections in place to ensure the data remains protected in both. Read all about it.
Now that we are signed up and working with the app and Command Center, where can we get help if we have technical questions?
We have posted answers to a series of Frequently Asked Questions in our Knowledgebase. If you don't see the answer to your question already posted then please submit a ticket to our help desk and a member of our team will be glad to assist.