Our team at Sarapis has done a lot of work with and for Open Referral including helping with general project IT needs, developing the Open Referral Airtable Template and the open source ORServices application to help meet the needs of people who wanted to use Open Referral but didn’t have the resources to develop custom software or pay for proprietary directory soltuions.

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This work led to the next set of projects with better resourced organization. In 2019 we worked directly with Open Referral founder Greg Bloom and open data consultant Shelby Switzer to build out multiple components for nonprofits in Florida and Washington DC. This work has led to the development of an ecosystem of open source Open Referral tools.

Our first project required our team to take data currently managed by 211 service directory system that hasn’t adopted Open Referral yet, transform it into Open Referral compliant data, display it as a resource directory web app and make that data available via the Open Referral Human Services API.

Working with Greg and Shelby, the Sarapis team created an end to end solution combining multiple open source components and a new, simple but effective HSDS Zip data format. 

This is how it worked: Shelby’s transformer tool retrieves the 211’s data and formats it into a newly developed HSDS Zip file. The ORServices app takes that file and imports it regularly into its web directory interface app. We also developed the ORAPI to make the HSDS Zip file accessible via the HSDAPI standard with Swagger docs, and created a prototype interface for accessing data directly from that API called the ORAPI Interface.

This toolset, with the HSDS Zip file at the center, allows us to easily transport and display HSDS data: as a single file, as an API, or via a rich interface with lots of backend customization opportunities.  

We’re so excited to help make the Open Referral ecosystem and look forward to building on this work in the coming months and years!

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