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NDP Case Study: VIA LINK's Dashboards

211s across the country are leveraging the infrastructure of the 211 National Data Platform (NDP) to support projects and products involving resource directory data. NDP Case Studies highlight specific use cases involving the NDP, offering examples and lessons learned.

Background: VIA LINK is a non-profit organization that provides a range of services to the people of Louisiana 24/7, 365 days a year under their motto of “Listening…Understanding…Connecting.”

VIA LINK began its mission in 1920 in Southeast Louisiana when the area was faced with the hardships of the Great Depression and the citizens saw a need to connect people with resources that could help them during this tough time. As time progressed, the organization added suicide intervention and crisis services to further assist the community. In 2000, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated 2-1-1 as a nationwide number that could be dialed to access human services information and referrals. In 2001, the organization began providing services and began officially operating as VIA LINK.

As part of the mission statement to “provide vital data and trend information to ensure policies and programs meet community needs” and through a conversation with Andrew Holbein of VIA LINK Louisiana, I was able to gain more insight into one of the major outputs at VIA LINK, their Dashboards. Through this conversation, it was established how the dashboards are utilized, and how they worked with the NDP to share data.

The Solution: VIA LINK’s dashboards use the NDP in several major ways: The organization’s resource database is uploaded into the NDP, and this information is pulled into the dashboards to visualize resource availability and gaps. When the VIA LINK used the iCarol platform its call records data was uploaded into the NDP and used to visualize location of callers, needs and other information. When data is imported into the NDP it is transformed into tables that make it very easy to use with dashboard software. This levels the playing field for organizations that are not experienced with structuring data and curates the data into a database that can be used for a number of projects.

Since the creation of their Dashboards in 2019, VIA LINK’s data has been used throughout Louisiana and beyond as the source of information during emergency situations. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, VIA LINK published a live dashboard of data that was being collected, and the City of New Orleans used it to see where citizens were most symptomatic and set up mobile testing locations in those areas. Additionally, during the devastation of Hurricane Ida, live dashboards were used by organizations to determine where to place mobile distribution sites for food and water resources for those in need.

Impact: Some of the recent trends VIA LINK has been able to capture with the use of the dashboards are:

  • Steady increase over the last year in 988 crisis calls, which coincided with a steady rise in referrals to mental health services.
  • After peaking in September 2023, requests for utility assistance have declined somewhat though that may change during the warmer summer months.
  • Needs for our rural and urban callers are largely similar. The top six needs are the same for the residents in the 10 most densely populated zip codes as the 200 lease densely populated zip codes in Louisiana, though in somewhat different order.

For their work, VIA LINK has also been awarded multiple awards including Innovation Awards from Inform USA.

For more information and visuals on how your 211 can use dashboarding tools (such as PowerBI, Tableau, and Excel), check out the “Analyze Your Data” page on the NDP website. If your organization wants to start using dashboards and become a “Dashboard Ninja”, feel free to reach out to Andrew Holbein at