Data Collaboration Like Never Before: A Safety Net that Catches Anyone Who Falls

By Anh Bui, posted on

A first-of-its-kind gathering took place on Feb 20th and 21st in the heart of San Francisco. The purpose of the gathering was to chart a path forward so all participating organizations can use data collaboration to better serve their constituents. Under the Benetech Service Net umbrella, participants included major Bay Area service providers such as St. Anthony’s along with the region’s largest social service referral providers such as United Way Bay Area. The participating organizations seek to serve the 1.3 million people in the Bay Area who are too poor to meet their basic needs.

The gathering was predicated on another first: the analysis of aggregate data from eleven social service referral agencies and service providers from across the Bay Area. Currently, each organization has valuable yet limited information about the social services they refer people to, such as the location, hours, and qualifications. No one organization has all the information. That’s why the aggregate analysis and convening were so valuable. Together, the eleven organizations may have nearly comprehensive social services data for the Bay Area. Never before has a detailed view of the Bay Area’s social safety net been available to guide the individual and collective work of the organizations involved.

participating members sitting in a circle while a woman presents to the group

The goal of such gatherings—including subsequent activities that will take place in the months to come—is to make comprehensive social services information possible and available through more efficient collaborative efforts. If one agency updates information on a social service through the Service Net system, all agencies on the platform could benefit. As a result, service providers and social service referral agencies will spend less money on data collection and management. Instead, they can focus more resources on providing people with the right information at the right time.

The Benetech team and our Service Net partners are excited about the next steps that came out of the gathering. Those include:

  1. New community discussions on data governance and value, models for collective impact, and the responsibilities of government and funders
  2. Early prototyping of the Service Net system
  3. Building new partnerships across the community

Benetech is proud to bring together communities from across the Bay Area to work collaboratively on some of the region’s most pressing and difficult challenges. We will keep you up to date on Benetech Service Net happenings as we work together to make sure all people in the Bay Area can access the resources they need to live and prosper.

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Watch and listen to the Benetech Service Net Convening: Bay Area and Sacramento (YouTube)

Read more about Benetech’s work to weave a stronger social safety net: