Digital map promises to improve government response to homelessness

An interactive, digital map aiming to improve the response to rough sleeping from professionals in London’s homelessness sector, and by local and central government, is to go live next month.

Charity the London Housing Foundation commissioned members organisation Homeless Link to produce and manage the ‘Atlas.’

It will provide data on single homeless people including: rough sleeping figures, street outreach, accommodation services, day centres and winter shelters in each London borough.

Data on health services specialising in working with homeless people, drug and alcohol services and private rented sector access schemes may be included in future.

It is hoped that by allowing users to view data at single borough, multi-borough and pan-London levels, Atlas will allow users to easily make comparisons of service provision, highlight gaps in provision and generate ideas for partnerships.

London’s homelessness services operate across 33 local authority areas, and are delivered by multiple providers, offering bed spaces and other services. The network of support provided to people facing homelessness in London is complicated and the statistics can be hard to find.

A complex network

“It’s really hard to get a comprehensive overview of services for single homeless people in London – there’s a complex network of provision delivered by hundreds of organisations to thousands of people,” said project manager Becky Rice.

“Understanding that bigger picture is helpful to people working in a range of roles, including commissioning, service delivery, strategy and research.”

The initiative will replace the current version of Atlas, a downloadable pdf document with static maps.

For the forthcoming incarnation of Atlas, Homeless Link is collecting and updating service data from providers ahead of its launch and will follow up with an annual data collection exercise. In the meantime, Homeless Link is encouraging people to contact them with any amendments.

“We have a growing list of exciting ideas for future releases and welcome new ideas from our users,” Rice said.

In future, the project team will look how Atlas could be extended to a wider audiences, including frontline staff, members of the public and local politicians.

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