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Embracing GIS Technology for the Homeless Point-in-Time Count

San Bernardino County, CA
Program Year: 2019

To better understand and combat homelessness, San Bernardino County conducts a county-wide Point-in-Time count (PITC) of unsheltered and sheltered persons experiencing homelessness every year. The annual count is crucial in securing funding from several competitive federal and state grant programs for homeless assistance programs, as well as helping county officials and policy makers gain better understandings of patterns in and causes of homelessness in the county. After a pilot program in 2018, San Bernardino County officials and volunteers conducted the 2019 PITC using a mobile application on Android and iOS devices, leveraging GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology. It marked the first time the county had transitioned from paper-based surveys to app-based surveys county-wide, an effort that was jointly led by the county’s Homeless Partnership and Information Services Department (ISD). By moving to the mobile application for conducting the count, San Bernardino County was able to simplify the volunteer surveyor’s experience as well as eliminate the data entry phase. Conducting the survey using the mobile application also yielded additional information never collected before, which paved the way for new mapping possibilities, insights and outreach opportunities not possible with the paper surveys used in previous Point-in-Time counts.

Jasmin Barnes
Deputy Chief, Business Solutions Development