The SIOM Project’s DC ConnectionBy Neil McKechnie, DCO eNews, June 2009 The Distress Centres of Ontario are embarking upon an exciting data capture project that will provide province-wide data and analysis to its leaders about caller demographics, issues, call volume trends and more. I can proudly say this will make Ontario and its DCO member centres one of the most progressive regions anywhere.
Five years ago, my wife Jackie and I enjoyed great technology careers at Intel of Canada and volunteered at the Oakville Distress Centre. We saw the opportunity for Oakville to modernize their agency with a web-based software system that would manage the major aspects of running a help line like volunteer management, shift scheduling, call reports, referral management, and statistics and reporting. Since we didn’t find a system that did all these things in an affordable, secure, and easy-to-use way, we began building a system ourselves. Little did we know that neighbouring centres would also become fans of our system. Eventually, we left Intel and incorporated our system as CharityLogic, working full time to serve non-profit help lines through our offering, iCarol. Amazingly, we now have clients in 28 states and provinces, plus the United Kingdom, Australia and even India. We’ve got over a dozen people on our team, over 10,000 users of the system, and are still growing steadily. Several months ago, we were delighted when DCO awarded us the contract for the Statistics, Information and Outcome Measures (SIOM) project. When completed, non-identifying call information will be copied from the DCO centres into a special iCarol system on an ongoing basis. DCO leaders can sign on securely to see many different charts and call reports. Each centre will be able to compare their own statistics with the provincial figures, and in a matter of seconds, users can answer specific province-wide questions like: How many calls did all of the DCO centres take last month, and how does that compare with the previous month? Is the length of our calls longer or shorter around the December holidays? What are the top issues or concerns for female callers between the ages of 20 to 40? What mental health issues are male callers with physical health issues most likely to have? With the iCarol system, DCO leaders will be able to speak much more persuasively to funders, the government, researchers, and the general public about the types of people we serve, the issues callers face, and the value of our services to our communities. When considering state, provincial, or national distress line associations around the world, you can count on one hand the number of those who currently have this kind of powerful capability. Congratulations to the DCO member centres for your vision in commissioning this project!