April 5, 2022 3:51 PM
Earlier this month, the City of Santa Monica was awarded a CIO 100 Award for Project Connect, a first-of-its-kind data platform that allows frontline workers to seamlessly share information, expedite services and ultimately improve outcomes for people experiencing homelessness. Now in its 35th year, the CIO 100 Award recognizes 100 organizations for their achievements in technology innovation.
“Project Connect is an important aspect of broader initiatives to address homelessness in Santa Monica,” said City of Santa Monica Chief Information Officer Joseph Cevetello. “The Project Connect innovation allows collaboration between emergency services, City staff, service providers and our partners at Akido Labs while enabling us to prioritize and protect the privacy of the individuals we serve.”
During the program’s pilot, Project Connect app users noted an ability to more quickly connect individuals to specific experts and services like the City-funded homeless multidisciplinary outreach teams and service providers and reported a significant decrease in unnecessary calls for emergency services. This means a more efficient use of public resources to meet the individual needs of people experiencing homelessness.
Data from the initial Project Connect pilot found a 37 percent reduction in arrests among Santa Monica’s highest utilizers of police services, improving participant-level outcomes while also reducing costly interactions with emergency services. Santa Monica’s Fire Department also saw a 27 percent reduction in deployments related to individuals experiencing homelessness. The program is now being used by the City’s Police, Fire, and Community Services Departments, as well as external service providers, to meet individual needs and coordinate service response across the City.
“People experiencing homelessness have complex health needs. If we can understand their situation better, and track what’s working and what isn’t, we can implement more effective strategies to address homelessness,” said Akido Labs co-founder and CEO Prashant Samant. “No other city has attempted something quite like this program – we’re already seeing the impact of a more a targeted and coordinated response to homelessness in our community.”
This technology augmented the longstanding City coordinated efforts between City departments and local service providers, offering automated real-time updates on the most vulnerable homeless individuals. Project Connect supports the work of current innovative approaches to homelessness in Santa Monica including the Homeless Multidisciplinary Street Team, SMPD Homeless Liaison Program and SMFD Community Response Unit as well as new programs like the Department of Mental Health Therapeutic Transport van that will begin service this spring or summer. For more information about the City of Santa Monica’s work to address homelessness, visit santamonica.gov/topic-explainers/homelessness.
The success of Project Connect, fueled by Akido’s technology in Santa Monica, has led to wider adoption of the program in other municipalities. Culver City is beginning the process to customize the program to assist with its homelessness outreach, and L.A. County has also engaged Akido to expand the program.
Public Information Coordinator