Cross-sectional surveys: Palm Beach County annual homeless survey

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In January 2019, Palm Beach County, Florida digitally produced their annual survey of homeless persons for the first time. Not only was outreach improved to vulnerable members of the community than previous years, but the county saved tens of thousands of hours previously spent in subsequent data collection efforts. Through Dharma Platform’s mobile data collection application, Palm Beach County officially completed surveys to rapidly measure and gain insight into the county’s homeless population. Through an agile, mobile application, officials and local volunteers used Dharma Platform to conduct surveys, online and offline, digitally transforming the collection process from the previous two-week timeline to a single day. Getting rid of pen and paper surveys, in favor of digitally transformed real-time data collection in a privacy compliant cloud database, drastically shortened county officials’ data collection time so their efforts could be better spent on data analysis. The analysis of their January survey shrank from more than 3 months to just 14 days. Unlike the common struggles associated with digital transformation, like struggling to learn new skills or adapt to new software, interface and user experiences, the Palm Beach County officials and volunteers were surprised to find how easy it was to implement this type of data collection. Palm Beach County again conducted their 2020 survey using Dharma Platform. In the 2020 survey, approximately 200 collectors collected a total of 1,289 records in a 24-hour time period, data cleaning/reporting time was reduced by 85%, and PBC officials were able to track data collection progress in real-time.

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