2-1-1 Maryland Serves the State and Region with iCarol
2-1-1 Maryland is a network of four non-profit call centers that provide information and referral services by phone to the residents of their state, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Callers express whatever needs they may have and trained staff and volunteers find service providers in their area who can provide them with assistance. Maryland is the 19th largest state in the USA with about 5.7 million residents, and collectively the 2-1-1 Maryland network takes about 275,000 calls per year.
The opportunity: Needed a more capable, stable and integrated system
In the past, the four call centers each used local copies of older software, but there were significant struggles, like:
- The older software had limited capabilities.
- For the partner centers it was just one of several software systems they had to use (including training and support) to log all of their different incoming lines.
- Even basic reporting was very limited across the network, (like caller demographics), let alone more advanced reports to identify top caller needs in specific geographic areas.
- Administrators frequently had to import and transfer files to manually update data.
- To pool their data, they had to employ schemes over slow and unreliable VPN and remote desktop connections.
The solution: An integrated iCarol call and referral database system to serve callers seamlessly
Some of the centers were already using iCarol to log calls for other incoming lines. When they learned that iCarol would support the AIRS standards and taxonomy (a requirement for 2-1-1 call centers), they immediately saw the opportunity to consolidate all of their systems into iCarol.
By working closely with the iCarol team, they deployed an excellent solution not just for the 2-1-1 Maryland network, but for all of the other incoming call types for the partner centers, too. It includes:
- A fully customized iCarol system for each of the four call centers
- A single iCarol call repository into which 2-1-1 Maryland calls are logged by each center (from within their own iCarol system)
Unified statistics and reports for all calls taken by the network
- A single, statewide referral database to which all four iCarol systems have direct access for creating, editing, updating and reading resource listings
The transition to iCarol went exceedingly well and all four centers have been using it since March 2009. Since that time, 2-1-1 Maryland continues to be an active voice in the ongoing expansion and enhancement of iCarol’s capabilities, such as publishing their resource database on their public website, and using our automated verification tool to keep their resources current.
Service beyond their borders – National Capital Region
Maryland and their neighboring state, Virginia, share a unique distinction – the US federal capital of Washington DC is entirely encapsulated between their states, and many of its commuters and supporting infrastructure are located in one or both states. It is not uncommon for businesses, government agencies and extended families to be located in the city as well as one or both states. The DC metro area itself is the 7th largest in the US, at about 5.6 million residents.
By working with the iCarol team, leaders from the 2-1-1 networks of both states have:
- Shared the Maryland referral database with the major iCarol-using call center in northern Virginia, and likewise shared the Virginia referral database with the Maryland call centers. This allows the call centers in one state access to information about resources in their neighboring state.
- Shared the referral database for the city of Washington D.C. with the Maryland and Virginia call centers so they may make referrals to meet their callers’ needs in the city.
- Blended all three referral databases together (Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C.) into a single publicly-accessible referral database for the entire capital region.
The 2-1-1 Maryland team continues to work with iCarol on an ongoing basis to suggest enhancements that make their service to callers even better.