Point In Time Experience
Held during the last week of January, the annual Point in Time (PIT) count is a critical component in understanding the scope of homelessness throughout the United States. It is a Federal requirement, serves as the primary report to Congress for funding, and is a way to measure how communities are doing on their efforts to end homelessness.
Our earliest work with providing planning, statistical research, and social research using data derived from the annual census commenced in 2004. This was well before mobile apps were a viable option and instead we had to resort to paper forms, clipboards, and tools such as Excel and Access to compile the results. Deciphering handwriting and understanding shorthand, is a major barrier to tabulating the results from a paper-based count. Volunteers leave off critical information that leave you with the decision to either guess what the response was or leave it blank. People wander beyond their designated count area and count people that someone else already counted. And then, after every volunteer gets to go home, the count administrators are left with the painstaking process of trying to make sense of it all.
Simtech was working with the Cities of Quincy and Brockton, MA in 2012 when we decided it was time to make the move to mobile tech. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recognized the viability of this early work by licensing the “Point In Time Counting Tool” app from Simtech and having us enhance it even further. The application was revised to meet the exact specifications furnished by fellow HUD Technical Assistance (TA) provider Abt Associates, peer reviewed by TA providers at both the American Institute for Research (AIR) and Cloudburst, and field tested in San Diego, Boston, and Los Angeles prior to being published in both the App Store and Google Play.
Simtech has built upon this work with HUD through the release of the Counting Us mobile app. This advanced mobile tech has successfully aided Connecticut, Rhode Island, Dallas, San Antonio, as well as several other regions throughout the country, to produce a count that is a more accurate reflection of homelessness in their area with far less effort than was involved when they were using paper.