StreetLink is a UK-based nonprofit service which allows members of the public to alert their local authorities to rough sleepers in their area. The service has helped thousands of people find support and shelter thanks to a number of available channels of communication.
Those channels of communication function through various technologies, with a phone line, website, and mobile app each enabling members of the public to contact StreetLink, who then pass the information to the local outreach teams to locate and provide rough sleepers with assistance.
Using the Salesforce platform to power nonprofits
StreetLink has seen such high levels of engagement from the public that a decision was recently made to consolidate all its internal technologies into a single integrated system. The Salesforce platform was selected to bring together each separate channel in harmony, aligning all the organisation’s data across various aspects of the Salesforce’s technology offering, including the introduction of the Service Cloud to improve the operational efficiency of the organisation.
This decision recently uncovered the opportunity to utilise the power of the Salesforce platform further, most notably leveraging the Community Cloud, by introducing a new custom mobile application to provide a seamless digital touchpoint for users to access the service.
With the support of the Salesforce nonprofit foundation, channels which previously operated in silos will now be brought together into a dynamic multi-cloud environment which will maximise levels of engagement with the public.
This will be part of a wider integration involving other ISV partners and solution providers, such as New Voice Media, in what will be a highly complex project delivered with pace and scalability.
Demanding more from a mobile application
Unsurprisingly, mobile has fast become the favoured method of participation for StreetLink users, eclipsing the use of the more traditional website. Mobile use lends itself perfectly to the service, as rough sleepers are spotted on the street, then referred to StreetLink by people who are generally travelling from one place to another. A mobile app allows instant, easy access to the service from anywhere, at any time, greatly increasing its accessibility across the country.
However, the initial attempt at providing a mobile app to support the service was challenging due to a fragmented approach to native iOS and Android development, making any updates or corrections to the app extremely difficult. Additionally, the UX of the app – a crucial factor in the adoption, and consequently the success of StreetLink – was not quite at the level of meeting modern consumer expectations.
The StreetLink leadership sought to amend this by finding an ISV product built specifically for the Salesforce platform. They recognised the need for a solution with a proven track record of enabling sophisticated, custom mobile apps to be built, operated, and supported, while also being compatible with the rest of their internal systems.
Taking advantage of the Salesforce App Exchange
After thorough evaluation of the available technology, MobileCaddy’s Application Delivery Framework (ADF) was chosen as the most capable option to meet those requirements, and identified as a solution which would allow them to do so comfortably within their budget.
Furthermore, MobileCaddy offers a unique, application performance-focused methodology, and provides full control over the inherent complexity which comes with any sophisticated mobile application. This was a deciding factor in giving StreetLink’s leadership confidence that the new app will deliver exactly what’s needed to maintain a service that members of the public will want to use, and keep using.
With the power of the Salesforce platform, StreetLink will now build a branded community-based mobile app for its thousands of users nationwide, available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
By using the MobileCaddy ADF to deliver this more advanced app, StreetLink’s team will solve previous challenges with geolocation accuracy, ease-of-use, and user data capture, to allow the service to be as efficient and effective as possible. When this is achieved, the process at the core of StreetLink will be significantly improved and will help increase the impact on rough sleepers in need.
The MobileCaddy framework’s offline-first architecture will give the app the consumer-grade resilience to guarantee users won’t encounter failure when attempting to access the service in areas of little or no connectivity. Removing the risk of app failure will greatly increase the number of rough sleepers successfully reached by StreetLink.
MobileCaddy will also answer another key requirement, in that it will allow StreetLink’s mobile users to sign up ‘on the go’, becoming completely self-sufficient in their end-to-end use of the service. This will be seen as a major milestone for custom Salesforce community apps fulfilling their true potential.
More importantly, though, this self-sufficiency will add an entirely new dimension to StreetLink itself, as it removes a significant step of interaction from the overall process. Consequently, referrals for rough sleepers can become far quicker and easier to submit, encouraging members of the public to engage with the service more regularly due to a positive user experience.
Finally, by unifying the technologies used across all the channels of communication with a number of specialised Salesforce clouds, StreetLink will have a fully integrated digital infrastructure moving forward. This consolidation will present many opportunities to use the data captured through the system to maximise the understanding of its users, and reactively adapt to nurture an ever-improving service.
Laying the foundations for the future
In order to meet their fundamental requirements from an operational perspective, it was crucial for the chosen solution to allow the StreetLink team to be able to manage and update the app on an ongoing basis, to ensure it will keep performing at the required level. MobileCaddy’s inbuilt monitoring and powerful versioning engine will allow StreetLink’s team to use data to evolve the app based on usage patterns and community feedback, as well as resolving any unexpected technical issues immediately.
When the safety and wellbeing of rough sleepers may depend upon the performance of a mobile application, this ability to regularly improve and upgrade will be key in ensuring members of the public never encounter any reason to hesitate to use it.
For StreetLink’s founders, the process of connecting the public with their service to help link rough sleepers with vital support has always been the most important thing. Technology is simply the best way to get that process running as efficiently and effectively as possible. Now, by letting this way of thinking drive their decision to adopt Salesforce, the StreetLink service is in a fantastic position to grow and succeed far beyond the original vision thanks to the technology supporting it.
By leveraging the platform and the various Salesforce clouds at their disposal, the StreetLink leadership team will soon be able to make an even greater positive difference to the issue of homelessness in the UK.
If you’re concerned about someone sleeping rough, get in touch with StreetLink today so they can connect them to local services for help.