We have developed the Frequently Asked Questions below to help communities understand important information that may aid in the decision-making process with stakeholders. If you don’t see the answer to your question already posted, then please submit a ticket to our HelpDesk and a member of our team will be glad to assist.
We have HMIS, why do we need Show The Way?
Show The Way was created using Human-centered Design Principles.
Show The Way has been piloted in Houston, San Diego, and Charlotte. We are using the lessons learned from outreach staff, persons experiencing homelessness, and service providers to inform our tech.
Human-centered design, fueled by conversations with people with lived experience, tell us that people already know what they need/want. Compared to brick–and–mortar shelter and housing providers, Street Outreach teams are often beginning work with a client in a very different space.
Data Collection is Person-Centered, while also collecting HUD HMIS elements and more.
Show The Way offers robust tools for mobile case management. Designed to collect HMIS-compliant fields and more, the Case Management module of Show The Way allows for real-time, geo-spatial, client-level data to be captured while in the field. The flow of the app gives space for relationship to be built, along with the case record.
Simtech Solutions provides a standard set of survey templates that collect HUD required data elements for Street Outreach projects for various funding types, including HUD ESG and PATH. Some expanded data elements are also included, such as: last permanent address, sexual orientation, type of place not meant for habitation, and more (read the Knowledge Base Article). These data elements are stored within the Regional Command Center and will be available for reporting.
Show The Way Supports Geo-Spatial Encampment & Interaction Tracking.
While HMIS tends to be oriented around Organizations and Projects, Show The Way provides a space for Outreach teams to focus on people in place. Within the app, Street Outreach teams can geo-tag the location of specific encampments, with analysis available in the Command Center. Team members can add pictures of encampments and notes about each location.
Encampments can be assigned statuses, indicating if they are currently active, or if no one is present anymore. Team members can also indicate that individual clients are staying at a particular encampment.
From the person side of the equation, interactions are also geo-tagged—providing an enhanced view of where people are experiencing homelessness in your community. This information expands the current understanding available from the HMIS fields Current Living Situation and CoC-code. Interactions are displayed on a map for individual clients within the app, or you can log in to the Regional Command Center for a holistic view of your local geography.
Street Outreach Data is often lacking or non-existent in HMIS, creating gaps in local By Name Lists: Show The Way can bridge that gap.
Ongoing outreach efforts supported with effective data collection tools such as Show The Way would improve data quality and support the ongoing management of a “by name list” of people living unsheltered in your community. The data gathered by outreach workers in Show the Way can be cross-referenced with data in the region’s Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS).
Process and data collection changes in HMIS can be difficult and time consuming. Show The Way allows for nimble adaptation to current needs.
Two examples of Show The Way’s flexibility include the quick turnaround for tracking COVID-related information, and our partnership with Miracle Messages.
- With customizable surveys, your community can quickly assess and respond to the challenges of today. When COVID hit, data was able to be quickly captured for encampments (according to CDC guidelines); later, when vaccines became available, surveys were added to allow for individual dose tracking for each client. Follow ups can also be added to help remind case workers of when next doses are due.
- Miracle Messages is a San Francisco-based non-profit that helps reconnect people experiencing homelessness with friends or family, with the goal of helping them return to a stable living situation and increase social support. Simtech Solutions is proud to partner with Miracle Messages in this effort—one which directly relates to unsheltered homelessness. Street Outreach teams can play a vital role in facilitating these reunions, and Show The Way provides a unique platform and opportunity to make those connections.
Show The Way offers a Community Resource Directory that can be populated with expanded information than what is required for HMIS; the Directory is available to providers and linked to their current location to show the most relevant resources.
Having the most up–to–date information to share with persons experiencing homelessness, other service providers, and first responders is vital to effective Street Outreach engagement. The Resource Directory will detail provider-specific information sourced from your local Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), with additional information that may not be captured in HMIS:
- Hours of operation
- Geographic coverage
- Target populations
Providers with unique properties can be tagged within the Resource Directory, making it easier than ever to find specific and relevant help when you need it! Our development Roadmap includes opening the Resource Directory as a public facing tool to allow for self-help of persons experiencing homelessness and concerned community members.
Show The Way Product Roadmap
At Simtech Solutions, we are ever striving to build upon our tools and continue adding features that will help communities meet and exceed their goals when it comes to ending homelessness. We continually absorb feedback from our partners in the field and make design changes to better support the work. Contact us for more information on what’s coming soon!
How does Show The Way work?
Show The Way relies on the same technical framework as Counting Us – the most widely used mobile app designed specifically for the HUD Point in Time homeless count. A major difference between Show The Way and Counting Us is that Show The Way allows for information to be looked up about specific clients after it is submitted. This functionality helps Outreach workers provide case management and other important services while capturing geo-spatial data year round.
What connections are available in Show The Way to promote security and accessibility?
Simtech Solutions Inc is a cause-driven technology services provider with a passion for developing innovative technologies to help people experiencing homelessness. Founded in 1998, Simtech Solutions has a depth and breadth of experience working with Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data and is well-versed in all the concerns around securing and protecting the personally identifiable information (PII) of the clients we are intending to help serve. Security is a primary focus for Simtech Solutions when designing and building software and systems that aid communities in their work of ending homelessness. By utilizing practices such as role-based security, principle of least privilege, and encryption both at rest and in transit, we can be confident data stored in our system remains secure.
The Regional Command Center that receives data from both Counting Us and Show The Way runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS), is API driven, and supports the geo-spatial data management and reporting requirements of regions as large as the Texas Balance of State.
To read the full Security Policy, click here.
What is the requirements-gathering process for Show The Way?
Our work has been vetted by Iain De Jong and Cindy Crain from Org Code and they are providing guidance throughout the ongoing development process. As managers of the largest HMIS data warehouse, we also have relationships with vendors, regional admins, and outreach providers, and people with lived experience that provide their feedback on their operational and reporting needs.
What usability and functionality testing have you done for Show The Way?
Show The Way relies on the same technical framework as Counting Us – the most widely used mobile app designed specifically for the HUD Point in Time homeless count. Counting Us was based on the HUD Point in Time Counting Tool that was field tested by LAHSA in 2013, and vetted by HUD staff and HUD TA providers to ensure that it met HUD’s strict data collection and security requirements. Show The Way has also been piloted in Houston, San Diego, and Charlotte.
Human-centered design, fueled by conversations with people with lived experience, tell us that people already know what they need/want. Compared to brick and mortar shelter and housing providers, Street Outreach teams are often beginning work with a client in a very different space. Immediate, basic needs are often given closer attention than considerations about homeless history or prioritization scores. We recognize that a solution is needed that is tailored to Outreach-specific workflows and service delivery. Show The Way was designed with those specific needs in mind.
What is the data retention policy for Show The Way?
According to the HUD 2004 Data and Technical Standards, “A covered homeless organization (CHO) must develop and implement a plan to dispose of or, in the alternative, to remove identifiers from, protected personal information (PPI) that is not in current use seven years after the PPI was created or last changed (unless a statutory, regulatory, contractual, or other requirement mandates longer retention).”
In accordance with this, when a record in Show The Way has met the threshold of having no changes in the 7 years since it was first created or last updated, the Client shall have the ability to either completely delete the entire record or remove identifiers from the record.
As the 7-year threshold is HUD’s standard for HMIS, it is the obligation of the client to monitor federal, state, local, and other contractual requirements to determine if the retention period should be past the 7-year threshold.