2-1-1 Counts, a product of WashU startup HCI, is expanding its reach across the U.S.

Logo for 2-1-1 Counts companyIn October 2014, Washington University startup Health Communication Impact (HCI) developed 2-1-1 Counts, the first tool to provide real-time, searchable, visual presentations of data from 2-1-1 call centers across the nation to government representatives, service agencies and philanthropies.

The company is led by Charlene Caburnay, President of HCI and a professor at the Brown School.

In the less than three years since its launch, 2-1-1 Counts has implemented 44 data dashboards in 21 states across the country, with four other contracts currently under review.

2-1-1 Counts also has recently improved its ability to compare year-over-year trends. The data dashboards have always provided time-trend information, but the tool now stores more historical data to track year-to-year changes.

In addition, data can now be narrowed down to legislative or congressional districts.

“If an elected official wants to understand the needs of the people in his or her district, 2-1-1 Counts can provide that information,” says Matthew Kreuter. Kreuter is a Brown School professor and senior scientist at the university’s Health Communication Research Laboratory, which developed 2-1-1 Counts.

“This tool helps identify the most pressing needs of the poor in America,” says Kreuter.  “2-1-1 Counts allows us to understand the type and magnitude of needs at a very local level and therefore address challenges in specific communities. This information is vital for local municipalities, service organizations, and philanthropies when determining how to allocate resources and prioritize needs.”

According to Kreuter, the research partnerships that have been made possible through Washington University between United Way and 2-1-1 leaders have created inroads for 2-1-1 Counts to continue its expansion.

“Our goal is to provide complete coverage in the U.S.,” Kreuter said.  “We’d like to have data dashboards that cover every 2-1-1 contact in the country.  If we can do that, it will be an invaluable resource for communities, helping them understand and address the needs of their most vulnerable citizens.”