Interoperability in the human service field is the ability of electronically linked agencies to work together, to interoperate (Schoech, 2010). Interoperability is viewed as the ability of one system to perform work in addition with other systems and avoiding having to ask for hard work and effort on the part of the helper. Interoperability heightens the impact for information technology to make the networks and integrations work.
Interoperability in human services infers that information from multiple agencies linked electronically to create one system from the user’s perspective, global sharing of proprietary information with user authentication and identity management tools to ensure data security, client privacy, and confidentiality (Schoech, Interoperability and the Future of Human Services, 2010). Interoperability can and will make the human service field so much greater as it is used daily and problems are resolved especially if advancement is wanted to help individuals become greater. There are three methods of interoperability and they are foundational, structural and semantic.
Here in Houston there’s a non-profit organization by the name of, “The Care Zone.” The care zone assists single parents, low income families and loyal students in the greater Houston area. The ceo and founder of the care zone is Chung “Chad” Kim, a refugee of Cambodia. Mr.Kim, founded the care zone in 2009 so his organization is still very new to the community and the city. Even though the organization is still fairly new, they’ve made it capable for others to communicate with them as well as being able to communicate with the community. If a person is willing to donate a totaled vehicle or just an old vehicle they no longer want and would love a tax write off, a person would only need to fill out the “contact us” form found on the care zone website and representative would contact them on their next moves. Since the care zone does assist clients, they much like all other human service professionals want to see growth from the clients they have assisted.
The care zone does keep up with their clients in a physical state but tend to post certain stories about a client improving their life. Since this is part of the foundation for helpers, in the future the care zone could possibly make keeping the progress of clients through their website or even creating an application for those who use smart phones; despite this limitation, the organization does reach out and are reachable through social media sites such as, Facebook, twitter and Instagram. Using social media shows that the organization is flexible and it provides information to those in search of help in an instant.
Much like the example of loosely linked network model, the care zone lacks central infrastructure (Schoech, Interoperability and the future of human services, 2010) . The care zone does use social media as a way to communicate and reach out to the community but for the potential client who doesn’t use social media the only way to get in contact would be to use the organization’s website. Like previously stated, one would have to complete the “contact us,” form. There isn’t a number to call for the ones who possibly have reading problems or simply don’t have the resources or time to complete a form.
Certainly, the care zone has to be able to understand the data that they are constantly receiving from clients as well as those who are willing and wanting to donate. There has to be a system to determine the clients from the ones actually helping or donating, this refers to the interoperability structural method within the organization. The organization helpers could use a program like a lot of human resources do when they receive thousands of resumes. A program skips through and searches for certain words to determine which resumes make it through the screening process and which don’t. This is something that the care zone could implement through their organization. This is a time saving method as well as a money saving method and extends their printers life. However, things happen and technology can sometimes fail in this instance, there should always be a person who is capable of skim reading through forms and be able to determine what the need or desire is.
Much like the structural method of interoperability semantic provides interoperability at the highest level. The semantic method allows the care zone to exchange with another organization or agency. The care zone might encounter a client who doesn’t meet their requirements to receive help. The organization assists single parents, low income families, and loyal students, if one doesn’t meet the requirements, the organization surely recommends the client to another organization or agency. The organization should be able to google other organizations and agencies to get the client help. The easiest most efficient way to exchange information with another agency would be emailing. If the client has completed a form and the organization has gone through the interview process, their file should be saved and forwarded to the neighboring agency, and with the consent of the client. Seeing that organizations and agencies usually network within the community, they typically make some type of connection with the fellow helpers in the community.
In the case of an organization not being able to assist a potential client, the helper should be able to refer to their contacts and reach out to a neighboring organization or agency. The care zone should train all their volunteers or employees to be prepared to network with fellow organizations or agencies; possibly even hosting a community outreach event and inviting other human service agencies. Just like with the previous two methods there should always be a backup plan. In this case, the backup method would be neighboring cities or towns to give assistance to the potential client. Technology is constantly evolving and can only get better. The future of interoperability in human services agencies and organization will only get better with time.
The future will provide connectivity and have a major influence on the future human service professionals to come. Future human service professionals will be trained to link information within the network or their organization or agency and will be able to exchange information with neighboring agencies as well. Due to time and it constantly changing future human service professionals will have to work harder to always have a backup plan if technology seems to fail.
Schoech, D. (2010). Interoperability and the future of human services. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 12. Schoech, D. (2010). Interoperability and the Future of Human Services. Journey of Technology in Human Services, 7. Schoech, D. (2010). Interoperability and the Future of Human Services. Journal of Technology in Human Service, 8.