If you’re going to be in Portland for the 31st National Conference on Problem Gambling this week, be sure to stop by and say “hi” to Mary from iCarol who will be there for the pre-conference and will be at our booth in the exhibitor’s area. We’re proud to be a part of this event; the largest and oldest conference of its kind bringing together leaders in prevention, education, treatment, responsible gaming, research, and recovery.
We’ll be joining the Pre-Conference beginning July 19th and attending the Helpline Symposium workshop on July 20th. It’s important to us to stay engaged on all the latest with this group and learning the current events and news impacting the industry.
iCarol is the chosen provider for a national chat and text collaboration platform for the National Council on Problem Gambling. Several centers and organizations from around the U.S. participate to provide help in states where they provide services. Help seekers from around the U.S. text or live chat with the national service, then iCarol’s comprehensive design reads the help seeker’s location. If there is a center in the network from the person’s location designated to take the chat or text at that time,
then the chat or text is sent to them. If there is not a designated center available, a trained back-up center is sent the chat or text. This successful model, which has been in place for a few years now, is great because help seekers get help close or specialized to them when it is available, and either way, help seekers always get connected to help. Contact us if you are interested in a model like this at your organization.
With every event we attend we continue to be amazed by the diversity in the helpline services available for so many different needs and issues in communities all across the world. Problem gambling helplines are doing wonderful work to strengthen families and improve health and wellness by reducing the economic, social, and personal costs caused by problem gambling. We’re sure it’s going to be another exciting and educational event. See you there!
iCarol is thrilled to attend the National Sexual Assault Conference (NSAC) in Dallas, TX, June 7-9, 2017. Over the past few years, iCarol has helped more and more agencies working in the sexual violence support space, especially as the need to offer chat and text to survivors increases. We couldn’t be more honored to help these agencies in their missions, and make the work these vital agencies do easier, and save them time and money along the way.
For some, like the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, the agency is focused on sexual violence prevention and survivor support. For many other iCarol clients, sexual violence support work is part of a multi-faceted agency.
In particular, providing survivors options for texting and live chat during the crucial hours following a sexual assault ensures they have options other than calling on the phone to reach out to the supporting agency. Many survivors have questions about getting a SANE nurse exam, or need support. Some agencies even explain how an advocate can meet the survivor at the hospital and explain the processes over text messages or live chat. In many states, the sooner evidence is collected in an exam (often within 72 hours), the better. The support work for survivors surely does not end there.
Here are a few other highlights of iCarol’s work with sexual violence support agencies:
Ensure hours/funding are accounted for and seamlessly administer and track:
- Advocate/SANE hospital & mobile responder activities
- Outreach/presentations at schools, events, training
- Case worker/advocate follow-up — no one gets missed
Instant reporting for funders:
- Advocate and staff training hours & certification (also with expiration alerts to staff)
- Monthly & quarterly reporting of interactions (calls, chat, text, in person), stats built right in
Better volunteer/advocate/staff shift attendance:
- Clear and web/mobile accessible organized schedules
- Seamless tools for volunteers to get help to fill a shift
- Text and email reminders about upcoming shifts
The conferences is “A Conference for People Who Want to End Sexual Violence,” according to their website. It also states: “The purpose of the conference is to provide a national training opportunity for 1,500+ workers from rape crisis centers, state sexual assault coalitions and other allies (medical professionals, law enforcement, campus rape crisis programs, public health department workers, and others) from across the United States and its territories.”
If you are going to be at the conference, please stop by the iCarol booth! Have questions or want to set up a time to meet? Please !
Are you familiar with the iCarol Help Library, where you go to watch video tutorials, recordings of training webinars, read help articles, and more? Even if you aren’t familiar with our existing iCarol Help Library, you aren’t going to want to miss the important, exciting news we’re about to share with you!
In recent years, iCarol has continued to evolve and grow to best meet the needs of our clients. With that growth, we recognize our Help Library needs to be updated to reflect the evolution we’re sure you’ve all seen.
That is why our team at iCarol is working hard to redesign the entire Help Library as you know it today. The following are some important changes we’d like to highlight that you’ll be seeing in the coming months:
New Guides: Some users may already be familiar with the ‘Get started!’ menu, which contains Guides that walk you through different tasks that you need to complete in iCarol. Our team is working to develop these Guides to help with your training needs. Watch out for more details in future blogs!
Update existing training materials: Some training material you may be used to accessing could be unpublished for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason is because we are re-evaluating our existing style guide and making changes to the way information is presented to you. So if you find yourself unable to locate training material you previously had access to, simply have a designated Support Contact from your organization go to Help in the left side menu to submit a case requesting information.
Overall Redesign: In addition to the changes outlined above, the entire look and flow of the Help Library is being updated to incorporate the same growth you’ve seen in other areas of iCarol. This means if you are used to searching the library a certain way, you will need to be aware of the changes so you can know how to still search for the information you need to find. Watch out for more details in future blogs!
This blog is the first in a series that we will be releasing throughout the year to keep you informed of the changes you’ll be seeing throughout our Help Library; so, make sure you keep an eye out for more details!
On Friday May 12, 2017 we were notified by Infrastructure Engineers that a massive global attack was underway which had already infected hundreds of thousands of computers and servers worldwide. This attack was known as the WannaCry virus and it targeted a vulnerability in Windows-based operating systems by encrypting the contents of a hard drive and any shared drive that computer was provided access. To decrypt the contents and return the hard drive back to a normal state, users were presented with a message demanding a ransom payment in Bitcoins, a virtual online currency that is difficult to trace.
Microsoft had recently released a patch to secure this vulnerability, which we had scheduled to deploy with our next patching cycle on June 11, 2017 after validation in our labs. However with news of this attack and following the recommendation from Microsoft Support and our Infrastructure Engineers, we acted swiftly and began the patching process of our external perimeter servers, considered to be at the highest risk of being targeted. By the end of the day Saturday May 13th, our exterior perimeter was secured in our production environments. We continued the process Sunday May 14th to secure our Disaster Recovery sites and by the end of the day Monday May 15th we completed the securing of our desktops, internal application and database servers. Following these actions, we can confidently say that all servers have now been secured in the iCarol infrastructure against the WannaCry virus.
Guidance for our users
We advise all of our users to be sure you stay up-to-date on browser and operating system updates on your machines. If you are running a Windows-based operating system please be sure to run the latest updates (Control Panel > Windows Update > Check for Updates) to make sure you pick up the latest patches and protect yourself from WannaCry and other viruses.
We take our role as stewards of your data, including sensitive information about the people you serve and the important work you do, very seriously. Should you have any questions about system security in the wake of the WannaCry Ransomware attack, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Support Team.
I’m excited to be attending the upcoming United Way CEO 2-1-1 Summit and Community Leadership Conferences next week in Orlando! Of the many big ideas and opportunities we can advance collectively, some of my favorites are those that contribute to 2-1-1’s operating as a coordinated national network, and that increase our relevance in key areas like social determinants of health. I’m looking forward to formal presentations and “hallway talks” about:
- Deeper engagements with medical and behavioral health entities
- Technology standards to harmonize the distribution of social and human services data to trusted partners
- Coordination of the National Texting Platform
- Greater use of “syndromic survellience” (love that term) to alert our leaders to emerging crises and issues
If these topics are of interest to you too, please let’s make sure we connect in a session or during a break to explore how we can advance 2-1-1’s overall, and your 2-1-1 network in particular, in the near term.
One of the most common challenges faced by non-profit human services agencies is taking all the data that they generate each day and finding ways to use it to tell the story of their impact. Every day in iCarol systems across the world, thousands of pieces of data, are recorded. There are the calls, chats, texts, and other interactions where specialists record detailed information about those contacts, what they need and what services were directly provided, or the referrals made. Each referral record may contain over a hundred fields of information updated by resource specialists on an ongoing basis. There’s shift information, who worked and when, and how many hours each volunteer logged in a given period of time. Speaking of volunteers, in addition to hours worked there are the trainings and certifications they’ve achieved, new skills obtained, contact information, and the list goes on. That’s just a small sampling of the kinds of information being captured, and when you multiply just the things listed so far by nearly 70,000 users worldwide, it really adds up!
Much of your storytelling can be achieved through the dozens of charts, graphs, and other tools available in the Statistics area of iCarol. All of the most common data points our customers require are typically found there, and especially once you add in the available standard filters like location or time frame, or more custom filters from your call report fields, the information produced from these in-system reports is very powerful. Still, there are reasons you may need to dig deeper and export detailed files. Some take the raw call report data and place it into external programs for further manipulation or cross tabulation, or prefer to write their own queries. In the cases of fields where a text answer is provided instead of selecting from a dropdown or checkbox list, an export is needed to review the information that can’t be quantified.
Using iCarol you can export much more than your call report data. Detailed information on your shifts, volunteer information, client profiles, and your full database of resource records are all available to be extracted. Some centers have policies or contracts that require local copies of contact data or a hard copy of the resource database be downloaded on a regular basis. These are just a few of the instances where a data extract may be required.
Of course we take great care to ensure that this data is secured and protected, but also accessible to you when you need it. While we act as its caretakers, the data is owned by our clients and it’s important that they be able to download it for offline use outside of iCarol when needed. As you can imagine, these large amounts of data take time to retrieve and process. Our systems also contend with multiple simultaneous requests from various organizations across the globe. As iCarol grows and more and more non-profit agencies use it and add to this mountain of data, it’s our job to ensure that our high performance standards continue to be met.
Early this year, members of our technical team endeavored to apply a fresh approach to the processing of this data. We made changes to the service that generates those data exports in an effort to reduce the wait times between making the request and receiving the data. The team was able to accomplish this by optimizing queries, re-architecting the exporter service being used, deploying additional services, as well as making changes to the exporter schedule.
So with all this talk of data, it’s time to share some of our own. Following these changes to our export service, we decided to compare some numbers occurring in February of two different years: 2016, prior to any changes, and February 2017 after the new approach had been put into place. The table below shows this comparison. The “Time to complete” accounts for the number of minutes that elapse between when the extract request is made, and then the email notification of completion gets emailed. It’s also worth noting that there were over 100 more exports requested in February 2017 than in February 2016, and yet as you can see our average time overall and for the individual types of exports all decreased by significant percentages.
As time goes on we’ll continue to monitor this performance and look at comparisons using a larger sample size to get a fuller picture of the progress. This first look, however, is very promising and we’re hoping this has had a noticeable positive impact on our clients as they request these exports.
From April 26th through the 29th, members of our team will be in Phoenix for the 50th American Association of Suicidology Conference.
We’ll have a booth at the conference and you’ll see us at many of the events and sessions, too. It’s important to us to learn about and be aware of all the latest research and the expanding needs of helplines as they work to build suicide-safer communities.
We hope you’ll stop by our booth and let us know how things have been going for your organization, and tell us about the exciting initatives you’ve had going on. We’ll be available to answer any questions you may have about iCarol, and we’ll have some fun activities to check out that are brand new this year!
In particular we’d really enjoy hearing your feedback about the new iCarol Ideas Portal we recently released. We’re excited to hear from our users about how it’s going, what you like about it, and any other feedback you may have. So if you’ve used the Ideas Portal, we definitely want to see you!
With all the excitment and so much going on, the time at the conference goes by quickly, so please look us up at the conference, or
beforehand to schedule some time to chat so we’re sure not to miss the opportunity to see you!
We look forward to seeing you and learning about all the latest in the life-saving work being done by the helpline industry so that we can continue to build our systems to support you.
Following the success and positive feedback we received after last year’s iCarol Summit, we’d like to announce that on May 21st, the day before this year’s AIRS Conference officially kicks off in Tampa, Florida, our AIRS certified team members will again hold a User Group Summit at the same venue as the conference. Our Summit is an all-day event that includes training and informational sessions along with our traditional User Group session. While we do ask that you register to attend this even, there is no cost to participate.
This year we’re excited to cover the fundamentals for your I&R service, while also diving into topics we know are of increasing importance in your field. We’ll feature two main sessions to address both of these areas. Our first session of the day will focus on managing your resource database and the important basic tools such as editing, field visibility, filtering, managing regions, custom fields, verifying your records for accuracy, and more.
After a break for lunch (there are plenty of great choices for you to explore close to the conference venue) we’ll continue on learning about the growing need for services to participate in continuums of care within communities. Human service agencies can’t afford to operate in silos — they need to work together, communicate with one another, and share client information to ensure clients are engaging in the full spectrum of available services and that all providers are aware of their status and progress. Community organizations striving for this model often practice a “no wrong door” policy so that regardless of where a help-seeker begins their treatment journey, they’ll be able to smoothly enter the systems of care rather than getting turned around, improving their chances of success and greatly reducing the frustration or discouragement that they may encounter otherwise. In this session we’ll discuss potential ways your agency can become a leader in these care networks within your community using some unique strategies and iCarol tools.
Finally, we’ll end our day with a traditional User Group session to which all are invited, regardless if you registered and attended earlier sessions in the day. This is a chance to learn more about iCarol for those who may be considering use of our solution, and to hear more about our strategy, planned new features and enhancements in our product “roadmap.” Of course we’ll offer time for questions, comments, and discussion of challenges and priorities.
We’re working hard on prepping everything for our Summit as well as other fun and exciting activities at this year’s AIRS Conference. Don’t miss this chance to connect with us — our full agenda and other details are available by following the link below.
Learn More and Register
From April 2nd – 5th, iCarol Co-founders Jackie and Neil McKechnie will attend the National Council for Behavioral Health Conference in Seattle, Washington. Many of our friends and clients have encouraged us to attend and have spoken highly of the conference, the people and organizations it attracts and the fantastic learning opportunities it presents, so we’re looking forward to experiencing this first hand.
In case you are not yet familiar with this organization, the National Council for Behavioral Health with its 2,800 member organizations, is dedicating to serving millions of adults, children and families living with mental illnesses and addictions. The cornerstone of their mission is to advocate for Americans’ access to comprehensive, high-quality care so that everyone has the tools needed for recovery. Many of you may also be familiar with their Mental Health First Aid program, a course that many of our users have not only taken, but their agencies often provide this training to their community. This highly impactful program has trained nearly 1 million people to play a role in helping someone experiencing a mental health or addictions emergency by providing immediate intervention and empathy while encouraging professional support. This program empowers all people, regardless of their personal field of expertise, to care for others and not ignore situations or feel powerless to help when they see mental health emergencies play out in front of them. It also highlights the importance of everyone having basic knowledge of mental health and addictions issues, which ultimately saves lives and reduces stigma.
We’re looking forward to learning more about this organization, attending some amazing sessions, and connecting with those in attendance to see how we might be able to work together. If you’re an iCarol user and you’re going to be there, we’d really love to connect so we can say “hi” and catch up with you, and perhaps grab a bite to eat or cup of coffee in between sessions. With this being such a large conference and knowing how much there is going on, it’d be great to plan ahead and schedule a time to connect and make sure we don’t miss one another. Please reach out to so we can find a time to meet up at what is sure to be a great event. See you in Seattle!
As our user base has grown over the last few years, we’ve scaled by putting into place major enhancements with our infrastructure. This ensures a stable foundation for your iCarol system to support the important work that you do. Likewise, we’ve recently added additional depth and stability to our company with the addition of a new position in our organizational structure. This change allows us to ensure continued quality service for all iCarol clients.
We’re pleased to announce the promotion of Rachel Wentink to the position of General Manager of iCarol.
Rachel first joined our team in February 2015 and came to us with a broad and extensive background in technology, product and business development, professional services and marketing along with many years of experience in managing small and large teams and working with clients in local, regional, national and international environments. Her educational background includes advanced leadership training and a Masters of Business Administration.
In the two years since joining CharityLogic, Rachel has taken on multiple responsibilities and managed several key projects. Most recently she served as our Director of Product Management and Strategy and was instrumental in forecasting our clients’ needs and then planning and implementing a product roadmap that exemplifies iCarol’s reputation as an innovative technology leader.
As General Manager, Rachel will oversee iCarol’s daily operations and drive strategies that ensure iCarol’s continued growth and success. She will also continue her work directing the Product Management team and will see through her current projects in that department.
Please join us in welcoming Rachel to this new role and wishing her much success!