Co-founder of StreetlivesNYC, the information sharing website built with the homeless population of New York City. Empathic writer, telling social innovation companies' stories to the wider world. Awarded lyricist & songwriter for everything from West End and Broadway to Swedish Metal.
This talk will be a moment of awareness and reflection on our prejudices, discomfort or acceptance, and assessment of what is really going on in a society that produces increased numbers of homeless people.
We are going to outline the complete absence of the homeless community on any digital platform that allows a gathering of primary information (e.g Google Maps APIs) or an expression of one's point of view (e.g. Facebook APIs). Following, we introduce StreetlivesNYC: the first crowdsourced map for information sharing, built with the homeless community in NYC.
With no single, dedicated, reliable source of information delivering to the homeless population, we scouted the profound need of a website that allows the sharing of knowledge and opinion on services and programs in the city. Service providers and the community have no living database of needs and resources to deliver data on which to build more responsive services.
We have been building with the homeless population for approximately one year, running compensated user research, co-design and prototyping sessions. The people from the community and their direct voices have been shaping the nature of this service. Establishing trust allowed us to start a program of ambassadors from the user population introducing the project throughout the shelter system. The extension of that trust through the ecosystem can be a unifying launchpad to overcome antagonistic feelings among stakeholders.
Our service provider partnerships and outreach to the civic technology community have resulted in an extensive, expert, and international advisory board. Our methods encourage others to join and stay connected.
Looking forward we drive toward handing over StreetlivesNYC so it is fully run by its user base, replicating the service in other cities, and establishing an equal place at the table for the community in any future discussion over how society addresses homelessness.