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 homeless in a community, including those living on the street, or other unsheltered locations, and what some of their key characteristics 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.
Why use mobile tech to conduct the Point in Time Count?
Mobile technology provides a lot of advantages over paper forms and clipboards. Here are some reasons to consider how Counting Us and the Regional Command Center can save time and make for a more efficient point in time homeless count.
What if our region decides not to conduct the Point in Time Count?
Given the uncertainty surrounding the Count due to the pandemic and other factors, we understand that communities would benefit from flexibility in planning. While we believe the Count can be conducted safely and effectively (see here) we will provide a credit for any services not provided if your community decides not to conduct the homeless count. More details on the tools and services that this credit can be applied can be found here.
We will be conducting the PIT Count over multiple days. When do we get virtual support?
We provide virtual support from 8 AM – 8PM EST during work days and will be available for any mission-critical issues on an as-needed basis beyond that.
Why should our region use Counting Us and not some other software?
There are a few software providers that are now claiming that their tools can be repurposed for the HUD Point in Time (PIT) count. Counting Us, and the Regional Command Center that receives data from it were built specifically for the HUD PIT Count. Details on the various reasons why Counting Us is the #1 app for the HUD homeless count and should be used in your region, can be found here.
What other regions are using Counting Us for their HUD Point in-Time count?
Over 50 regions have used the app to support their PIT counts. The coverage map is linked here.
How much does it cost?
The pricing is based on the size of the community and the percentage of the homeless population that are unsheltered. Please review this page for more details about pricing and feel free to contact us for a sample contract and pricing estimate for your region.
What is included?
The technical framework includes access to the Counting Us mobile app and the Point in Time Regional Command Center as well as the technical support to ensure your count is well planned and runs smoothly. Key features and included services are described on the pricing page.
What updates have been made to the tech recently?
Your voices are heard! The feedback we have received from count admins and volunteers has resulted in this list of new features that have recently been added to the Counting Us app and the Command Center.
What other services do Simtech Solutions provide to assist us with our Point in Time count?
A comprehensive list of additional services available to support your count is described here.
Can shelters that don't participate in HMIS use the Counting Us app to collect information on the people they serve?
Yes! The Counting Us app includes a survey for capturing details on individuals and families residing in shelters that do not participate in HMIS.
I like the idea of using mobile tech but need the buy-in of others in my region. How can Simtech help with this?
This one-page handout provides an overview of the key features and services available to automate the Point in Time Count. We are also available to conduct virtual demonstrations of the technology. Please contact us to set something up.
We have several providers that serve victims of domestic violence. How can we include them in the counting process?
Domestic violence providers are prohibited by law from using HMIS or other database systems where the data is shared. Simtech Solutions built an Excel-based data collection and reporting tool that allows domestic violence providers to participate in the count without ever having to send confidential data anywhere. The Excel tool is free for all to use and can be found on our resource page.
Can volunteers use their own devices or do we need to rent or lease tablets?
There is no 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. According to this research study from the Pew Institute, 85% of adult Americans have a smartphone that they can use. Those who don't can be partnered up with people who do.
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 still collect and save all of the information, including the location. The user will be prompted to save the survey as a draft which can be submitted later when the volunteer regains Internet access.
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 via smartphones and tablets while also being able to be submitted via the Counting Us website. We have additional recommendations if the decision is made to use 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. This allows for mapping and reporting by census tract, HUD CoC, or other types of regions. Additionally, the Known Location Surveys help identify locations where people experiencing homelessness are known to be staying. This goes hand in hand with canvassing ahead of the PIT and creates an ongoing dialogue between outreach workers and team leads. To demonstrate the simple process for using the Known Location Survey, watch this short video here.
How does the mobile app facilitate the required reporting for HUD?
The Counting Us app submits survey data to the Regional Command Center. People who are designated count managers and administrators can clean up data and generate the Point in Time Summary Report with a couple of clicks. The data can also be downloaded for other reports.
How can I use features in the Command Center to get a more local, or filtered, view?
This short video highlights some of these features:
Can we use a sole source agreement to license this technology?
There are a variety of reasons that support the rationale for a sole source agreement with Simtech Solutions that are described in detail here.
What security protections are in place for the Counting Us app and the Regional Command Center?
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. Details on our secure framework can be found here.
How much data can we expect the app to use?
If a volunteer were to conduct thirty (30) surveys or less and were to change neighborhoods for each one, they would still use less data than if they were to stream a single four-minute-long song.
What are the different roles that can be assigned for access to the Command Center?
Both Count Managers and Count Administrators can access the Command Center to manage data including updating and archiving records. Count Administrators can also control all of the settings for the Count, including managing users, assigning the set-up key, and changing the status of the Count from testing to active.
Why should our region consider conducting a youth homelessness count? Five reasons why this is a worthwhile exercise can be found here.
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 additional Frequently Asked Questions in the Support section of this website. 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.
How do I request my account be deleted?
If, for any reason, you would like your account deleted from the Counting Us App, guidance for this process can be found at this site.