United Way for Greater Austin is excited to announce the launch of the 2-1-1 Austin mobile app to help community members navigate the complex system of health and human services in Central Texas. The app will allow users to get to the assistance they need quickly, anonymously and from the convenience of their mobile device.
In 2015, UWATX’s 2-1-1 call center, which has the most up to date, comprehensive directory for social services information, handled more than 300,000 calls, each representing a person in need of assistance. From mothers who need food for their children, to working families who cannot afford to pay their utility bills, or a dialysis patient trying to coordinate transportation to medical appointments, 2-1-1 can direct users to more than 30,000 social service resources. The app also makes it easy to call 2-1-1 directly when a human touch is required.
“The 2-1-1 Austin app will streamline access to social services information, ensuring crucial information is available when and where it is needed,” said Jon Armstrong, UWATX Board Member. “We are grateful for the valuable support from Cerebri and IBM to provide the tools and expertise to help United Way for Greater Austin’s 2-1-1 call center reach more people in need.”
Users can simply download the app from the app store and enter their zip code to connect to the most relevant resources based on their needs and location. Users can either find these resources through a robust set of resource-matching tools to obtain a list of services that closely match what they are looking for, such as a food source, utility bill assistance, low-cost child care and many others.
The complex decisions of how to match constituents with the best social service for their needs is performed by the machine learning technology of a local Austin start up, Cerebri, who, in partnership with IBM Watson, developed the app to provide customized responses to each user. The app began as an entry into an IBM Watson contest that University of Texas at Austin students won last year. Cerebri will continue working with UWATX to increase the functionality over time and take further advantage of the power of Watson and machine learning.
“We are thrilled to support Cerebri’s unique and innovative use of Watson to help individuals across Greater Austin improve their lives and those of their families,” said Rob High, VP and CTO IBM Watson. “IBM will continue our support with Cerebri and the United Way to expand and extend this work to other areas.”