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					Session 8 Wed. June 3, 10:45am-12:15pm

Resources That Don’t Fit Into Your Resource Database:
How do you provide information that is inappropriate for your database to the call specialists?

Jennifer Miller, CRS - Resource Specialist United Way of Greater Kansas City/United Way 2-1-1 Alicia Girard, BSW, CIRS - 2-1-1/Crisis Program Manager PATH, Inc.

Workshop Goals

• Provide several options that can be used to provide easy access to information outside a resource database

• Show how different organizations have implemented these options
• Discuss other ideas that those in the audience may be using, along with benefits and pitfalls

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What types of information might not be appropriate for a resource database?
• Policy changes • Media coverage of your service or local events that generate calls • Time sensitive information (closures in a disaster, etc.) • Internal organization events • Reminders (seasonal information, procedures, etc.) • Training information • Customer service and benchmark information • News from your health department or local government (recalls or product contaminations, bulk trash pickup days, etc.) • Links to commonly used websites

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How do you currently provide information outside your database to call specialists?
• Email? • Printed materials? • Word of mouth? • Another internal system like an intranet or shared drive?

We will take a look at several systems that organizations around the country have utilized to cope with providing uniform, current, and accurate information when information is changing at a quick pace and needs to be accessed over and over again.

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Intranet pages

• Vermont 2-1-1 (Cathy Nellis)
• United Way 2-1-1 KC (Jennifer Miller) Virtual Library • Findhelp Toronto (Faed Hendry) • Info Line/2-1-1 Summit Akron (Tim Hite) Free Sites/Blogging Applications • PATH Inc. Bloomington (Alicia Girard)

• 211info Portland (Oscar Rincones)
Chat/Instant Messaging Applications • 2-1-1/United Way SW Michigan (Bill Sullivan) Database Message Board • United Way 2-1-1 St. Louis (Robin Pokojski)

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Intranet pages
An intranet is a private computer network that uses Internet technologies to securely share any part of an organization's information or operational systems with its employees.

Intranet interfaces are generally accessed using your web browser, usually accessing a page that is only available within your own organization (or collaborative of organizations) through a shared drive or other network. Many organizations already utilize intranets or shared drives to share items like HR information and commonly used documents. Pages can be created to look like web pages with HTML editor programs like FrontPage, Dreamweaver and many others. Pages can also be a simple as any linked documents, PDFs or other files.

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Vermont 2-1-1 Intranet Page Cathy Nellis

Vermont 2-1-1 utilizes an internally created intranet page where they link websites and documents that are frequently accessed by call specialists.
They have created a separate set of inclusion/exclusion guidelines for their intranet page.

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United Way GKC 2-1-1 Intranet Page Jennifer Miller

United Way 2-1-1 at United Way of Greater Kansas City utilizes an intranet page that incorporates information on policies, events, internal news, web links and a PDF version of the call specialist training handbook.

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What are the benefits of an intranet page?

• Information can be accessed from any locally networked computer • Each new piece of information does not need to be transmitted to call specialists, it can be accessed when needed from one location • Organization of materials is done by the creator, individuals can not misplace or delete information • Everyone is viewing the same information, not different iterations of changing information • Information can be updated immediately

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Virtual libraries
The term “virtual libraries” does not have a strict definition and is used by several organizations to describe their internally created tools, but in general seems to encompass web-based tools used to manage and organize pieces of information, documents, and links. Items may be organized by categories, tags or metadata, dated information and other links.

Virtual libraries have many of the same benefits as intranet pages, but may also be hosted online so are accessible from external locations. Some organizations utilize password-protected sites to prevent internal information from being accessible to the public. As with intranet pages, functionality of the application depends on the platform used. Libraries can be created internally, or utilize a free or fee-based online or software-based application.

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211Toronto Virtual Library Faed Hendry

211Toronto utilizes a virtual library that incorporates an online interface that is password protected. Features include blog-like entries with links that can be tagged and accessed by category, and links in several categories to references and other 211 locations.

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Info Line/2-1-1 Summit (Akron) Virtual Library Tim Hite

Info Line/2-1-1 Summit provides contract after-hours coverage for another call center in Ohio. They utilize a virtual library created through Google Sites to provide local information about this contracted area. The call center is several hours away so the virtual library offers call specialists extra insight into the resources available in that area.

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What are the benefits of a virtual library?

In addition to the benefits of an intranet page, depending on the application, virtual libraries can also offer the following: • Online document storage • Blogging applications • Tagging or adding metadata to information

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Free sites/blogging applications
A blog, or weblog, is a website that is generally formatted as a series of dated entries related to a specific topic, or presented by a specific individual or group.

The internet offers many options for individuals or organizations to create their own websites and many of these options are free. Some of these applications are in the from of a blog, others offer variable formats. There are many applications out there, such as Google Sites (sites.google.com), Typepad (typepad.com), Wordpress (wordpress.com), Blogger (blogger.com), etc. There are even more possibilities if you would like to use a pay service.

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PATH Inc. Blog Alicia Girard

PATH Inc. utilizes a blog format (Typepad) which is accessible online but password protected. This site also incorporates the entry “tagging” feature to categorize information that some virtual library sites use.

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211info Portland Free Site Oscar Rincones

211info utilizes a free website building application (Google Sites) that allows inclusion of multiple modules, links, posts and document uploads. This site is also accessible from the internet but password protected.

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What are the benefits of a blog/free site?

Free sites and blogging applications offer a tremendous flexibility. It will vary by service, but some features that may be offered include: • Choosing to restrict access or make your site available to the public • Multiple editors/contributors • Access from anywhere with an internet connection • Document/picture hosting • Select from design templates instead of creating your own • Page design software is not needed

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Chat/instant message applications
Chatting or instant messaging is a type of text-based real-time communication.

Chat and instant message applications offer interaction between management, resource specialists and call specialists in addition to providing a way to share information. These applications allow users to read and respond to posted information immediately without having to refresh page information. These applications can range from the simple person-to-person chat windows offered through free websites and email such as Google, Yahoo and AOL, to online and software applications with many integrated features for a fee.

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2-1-1/United Way for Southeastern Michigan Bill Sullivan

United Way for Southeastern Michigan utilizes an instant message service called ePigeon (epigeon-instantmessaging.com). This is a fee service that allows users multiple options within messages. This specific service does allow attachments to be included in messages.

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Database message boards
Some databases or other applications utilized by call centers have built in message boards that can be utilized to provide important or time sensitive information to call specialists in a very simple way.

United Way 2-1-1 of Greater St. Louis Robin Pokojski United Way of Greater St. Louis uses the Refer database from RTM, which has a built-in message board when logged into the system. It allows users to post short messages that are viewed by all call specialists.

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Things to keep in mind…

Utilize resources that you already have available Does your organization already have an intranet? Does your database offer a “dashboard” or message board? Your application is only as good as you make it Someone on staff will have to keep information updated. Building an elaborate information-sharing site will do you no good if no one has the time for upkeep. Make it simple enough to navigate without training We all spend large quantities on time in training and training others. Do yourself a favor by not adding another training burden!
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Thank you!
Jennifer Miller, CRS Resource Specialist United Way 2-1-1 of Greater KC Kansas City, MO 816-559-4671 jennifermiller@uwgkc.org Alicia Girard, BSW, CIRS 2-1-1/Crisis Program Manager PATH, Inc. Bloomington, IL 309-834-0541 agirard@pathcrisis.org