211info is a non-profit based in based in Portland, Oregon; they provided referral services for local community services in the State of Oregon and 4 counties in Southwest Washington. Traditionally, their clients would dial “211” and their team would answer the phone and verbally provide them the answers. As technology has progressed, they have taken queries from email, SMS, and there is also a self-serve tool on their web site.
211info received a grant from the Oregon Department of Human Services / Child Welfare Division to develop a mobile app to expand their capabilities. The 211info team developed the user interface in-house and partnered with Apptology to do the coding. Apptology was able to develop an iPhone and Android app that leverages 211info’s resources database.
The app is a self-serve tool allows their clients to search for local resources. One of the features of the app is that it will use the user’s location by leveraging the smart phone’s GPS capabilities. The resource’s description, address, phone number, and web site are displayed and can also be viewed in a map view. The user can further use the smart phone’s capabilities by using tap-to-call, view their web site, and get turn by turn directions. Users can also call, email, or text 211info team within the app for further assistance.
In developing the app, 211info was acknowledging the fact that smartphones have widespread adoption and is nearly ubiquitous among young adults. The adoption has been relatively easy and 15% of inquiries to 211info now come from the app. A surprising base of users has been health and human services workers.
“I was at a Health Round-Up and someone needed some direction on resources. I pulled out my 211info mobile app and was able to easily direct them to an agency. It was so easy!”
(Southern Oregon Head Start Director)
When asked about feedback about the app, Matthew Rasmussen, Coordinator at Oregon Department of Human Services, responded, “The app is simple and easy to use, yet visibly streamline and functional. As a result we have seen an impressive number of downloads and expect this trend to continue. Our goal in developing an app is to engage and assist young people with meeting their own basic needs using technology they already use. Our target audience already uses their phones for nearly everything they do and we want to meet them where they already are, offering them the information they need in an easy to use platform. We believe we achieve this goal with the app.”
Emily Berndt, 211info Director of Partnerships, stated that they are tracking the feedback on the app and overall, it has been overwhelmingly positive. They definitely see the advantages of having a mobile app has had to their customer base and see it as a useful tool for other referral agencies such as theirs.
Please note if you download the app and you’re not in 211info’s service area, the app will only give the option to call, email or text for referral info.
By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014. Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.