Homeless crisis: New app pinpoints rough sleepers

Public alert system comes on stream to help outreach teams get more people indoors

Dublin Simon Community said the public is a vital resource in alerting the service to the location of rough sleepers. File photograph: Getty

Dublin Simon Community said the public is a vital resource in alerting the service to the location of rough sleepers. File photograph: Getty

 

A mobile phone app that allows the public alert homeless services to the location of rough sleepers has been launched in Dublin.

The free Dublin Rough Sleeper App allows the user to “drop a pin” on a map to inform the Dublin Region Homeless Executive of the exact location of a person sleeping outdoors, so they can be offered a bed for the night.

Previously the only options open to the public were to call a phone number or use an online form. The app will enable outreach teams, operated by the Dublin Simon Community on behalf of the executive, to more quickly reach those in need.

“This app will enable us to respond in real time to alerts from members of the public,” executive director Eileen Gleeson.

“We are encouraging as many people as possible to download the app . . . with Christmas approaching, and the coldest nights of the year upon us, the importance of enabling people to come into accommodation at night is critical.”

The app was developed by a team of Microsoft Ireland volunteers. Over several months the team worked with the executive and Simon community to create the app which provides real-time data to outreach teams. It is hoped the app will be made available nationwide in future, said the executive.

‘New clients’

“The DRHE would like to thank Dublin Simon Community, Ultan Technologies, Dublin City Council and Smart Dublin for their enormous contribution to getting this project across the line.”

Ciarán King, Dublin outreach manager with Dublin Simon, said the public had already been a vital resource in alerting outreach teams to the location of rough sleepers.

“ We are familiar with the majority of individuals who are rough sleeping, their locations and behaviours from our interaction with them on the streets every day,” he said. “However, sometimes people move around for different reasons or new clients bed down on the streets for the first time. With collaboration from the public . . . the geographical accuracy of this new app will help to cut down on time spent searching for clients on the streets.”

The app is available now on both Apple and Android platforms.