The Counting Us mobile app was developed by Simtech Solutions to automate the collection of data for the annual homeless census. The app is available from both Google Play and the Apple App Store and can be taken for a test drive by registering an account and using the "setup key" of "DEMO".
Each region is provided with a unique setup key and can choose to utilize the standard HUD-compliant surveys or can choose to have the surveys customized to meet local requirements. Surveys can also be tailored added to support youth counts, disaster recovery, as well as initiatives such as Project Homeless Connect.
Additional features available to support an automated count process include volunteer registration forms, count team management tools to aid pre-count planning, as well as geographic-based sampling and enumeration tools that can be used to produce a statistically reliable count without having to canvas an entire region. More details on these extra features can be found here.
Key features of the Counting Us app include:
- Works on all major devices and can also be run from a web browser at http://Counting.Us;
- Unsheltered Surveys capture data when a person can be engaged, and Observation Tally forms are used for times when that is not an option;
- Sheltered Surveys are included for the shelters that do not participate in HMIS;
- Survey questions are personalized to only ask relevant questions of the person being interviewed. For example, a child would not be asked if he/she is a veteran.
- Regions can choose whether or not they want to require particular questions be answered;
- Surveys can be customized to meet local needs and priorities;
- User account information is submitted with each survey to aid data cleanup;
- Includes logic to automatically associate members of the same household;
- GPS-functionality captures the exact location of each survey interaction;
- Users have the option to collect full names and dates of birth which allows the information to be integrated with HMIS data.
- Offline storage allows surveys to be saved and submitted later so no Internet or cell coverage is required;