DALLAS TREATS HOMELENESS WITH COMPASSION, ACTION
May 16, 2022
Fast Facts: Downtown Dallas
- The homeless population in Dallas and Collin counties grew about nine percent YoY
- Negative social media posts declined by 90 percent after the community was made aware of the availability of See Say Now.
- See Say Now users in Downtown Dallas send hundreds of helpful reports each month
For Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI), the ELERTS See Say® reporting system has proven to be a great asset for increasing situational awareness about goings-on in the district. DDI has deployed See Say Now to great effect in its efforts to improve quality of life for stakeholders across the social spectrum.
DDI is a private, non-profit advocacy group whose mandate is to help make the area in and around Downtown Dallas more livable and pleasant for all comers — commuters, residents, and tourists. It aims to ensure that Downtown remains vibrant and welcoming by embracing ideas and innovations that enhance the urban experience.
THE DOWNTOWN DALLAS/ELERTS SUCCESS STORY
The See Say Now app makes it easy for DDI employees, the Safety Patrol, and concerned citizens to report issues that need attention. DDI monitors incoming reports on the ELERTS management console, which displays a heat map with pins showing locations of all reported issues so resources can be deployed quickly and efficiently. When appropriate, DDI shares information with Dallas police or Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART).
A MORE EFFECTIVE APPROACH TO TACKLING HOMELESSNESS
Like many localities across the United States, Downtown Dallas has a homeless population. In its 2019 State of the Homeless Address, the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) reported that the homeless population in Dallas and Collin counties grew about nine percent in a year.
Besides its quality-of-life-enhancement-for-all agenda, DDI aims for more permanent solutions to homelessness.
The nonprofit encourages individuals in homeless encampments and those scattered around town to accept referrals to social services for assistance.
Early each morning, DDI deploys homeless outreach teams throughout Downtown. The teams use the ELERTS app to record homeless locations and take photos and notes. This data help DDI see the big picture and make better decisions about assigning resources to help address challenges. Since 2017 See Say Now has made a huge contribution to helping DDI to assist homeless persons by mapping, counting and staying current on locations of encampments.
Dallas and Collin counties participate in the federally-required annual documentation of the homeless population nationwide. The counting project is led by MDHA and conducted by 1,500 volunteers who search business parking lots, alleyways, and under overpasses. Says David Gruber, development and communications director for MDHA, “If you’re trying to solve the problem without data, you’re flying blind.”
SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS CAN BE INACCURATE AND BROADCAST NEGATIVITY
DDI used to see negative posts on Facebook and Twitter about adverse conditions in their district. Complaints on social media broadcast bad impressions of a Business Improvement District (BID). Besides being inefficient, it is uncertain whether those authorized to remedy an issue will see a complaint on social media. It is often impossible to communicate directly with the original poster, and the location of the incident may be difficult to ascertain. That makes social media a poor tool for addressing concerns promptly.
REAL-TIME CHAT AND ANALYTICS HELP ADVANCE THE MISSION
See Say Now users can report issues via real-time chat to a DDI dispatcher and upload a photo or video while the GPS displays the location of the issue. The two-way communication enables the incident reporter and the dispatcher to discuss status and other details. Downtown Dallas Inc. receives hundreds of See Say Now reports every month.
DDI estimates that negative social media posts declined by 90 percent after the community was made aware of the availability of See Say Now. The organization strives for a seven-minute maximum reply time to See Say Now users, who appreciate the quick responses.
With ELERTS the dispatcher can access nearby resources such as surveillance cameras. Analytics enable BIDs to see the big picture to understand recurring problem areas and incident categories.
ELERTS DELIVERS ACTIONABLE SITUATIONAL AWARENESS TO TRANSIT AGENCIES, AIRPORTS, AND DOWNTOWNS ACROSS AMERICA
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has been using the ELERTS mobile incident reporting system since 2016; their success was a catalyst for DDI to adopt See Say Now. DART’s presence in Downtown means that many of its riders are familiar with See Say Now. Moreover, information gathered via ELERTS can be shared by DDI and DART via their management consoles — giving each extra information for reaching common goals around increasing situational awareness.
GET THE HELP OF EVERYDAY PEOPLE
ELERTS is the proven technology that leverages a powerful force for good: Everyday people who step up to help by reporting issues they see. Whether its passengers at airports, riders on public transit, visitors downtown, or employees and volunteers at all of the above, ELERTS makes it easy for them to share what they see – so you can know more quickly what needs to be done and where to deploy your resources. ELERTS improves safety, security, operations, customer experience, and reputation management.
ABOUT ELERTS CORPORATION
Massachusetts software developer ELERTS created its cutting-edge mobile incident reporting solution for cities and BIDs, transit agencies and airports, and other public entities. A smarter, more comprehensive alternative to social media, See Say® enables mobile phone users to provide real-time situational awareness and actionable information to the DDI dispatcher for more timely responses to issues such as homelessness, vandalism, panhandling, and disorderly conduct. See Say is an easy-to-use system that lowers people’s resistance to reporting problems they see in the district.