The Region of Waterloo wants to make searching for agencies and programs a bit easier for residents and townships.
Launched earlier this month, isearchmycommunity is a central database for contact and program information for agencies and groups across the region, all in one place.
“I know that in our call centre we frequently get questions from people who are just looking for information, not knowing where to look or where to start,” said Deb Bergey, manager of client experience and service improvement with the region, adding that it was discovered there was a lot of overlapping data collection already happening in the service sector. “What we discovered is that there were a number of local organizations that were involved in data collection and involved in funding data collection and a group of organizations came together and we realized that we had duplication going on across the region, both with funding and data collection. They got together and decided to streamline the process.”
The result is isearchmycommunity.ca. The region put out a request for proposal last spring, looking for a group to host and manage the site, and ultimately decided on the Social Planning Council of Cambridge and North Dumfries.
Bergey says the hope for the future of the site is to provide a one-stop shop for residents, government offices and social programs and all associated information.
“We do look at making the data available through open data, so that every organization can use it. That is one of the hopes. That was a strong desire from our regional council, that we collect the data here once, and that it is made available to everyone from multiple collecting programs,” she said.
Along with the creation of the online database, the region has put together a community advisory group to assess the value and efficacy of the new site.
“We have about 20 to 30 agencies that are meeting and we tried to represent all categories of service. We have reps from the health industry, food, security, housing and shelter – their role is to help us reach out to their networks and to make sure agencies are aware of the database,” said Bergey. “The other part is to give us feedback on whether the data is useful in serving their clients or in planning needs.”
Any organization who wants to add their information, or update a current listing can contact the Social Planning Council of Cambridge and North Dumfries at 519-623-1713. The group can also be found online at www.spccnd.org.