Street Health Access to ID image 1

Street Health Access 2 ID Software

Street Health is a non-profit community based agency that improves the health of homeless and under-housed people in Toronto. Their work is focused in the neighbourhood around Dundas and Sherbourne Streets, an area with the largest concentration of homeless shelters and drop-in centres in Canada. One of their largest programs is Access to ID, which helps people recover their ID, and provides a safe place to store their ID.


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The challenge

Street Health clients live on the margins of society, and one of their biggest challenges is to have proper identification. They may not have their ID, whether that be a birth certificate, health card or others. In addition, they provide a service where clients can safely store their ID. Street Health wanted a system to manage ID application requests, and a separate service to store ID for clients, so that it can be kept in a safe place.

Street Health wanted to merge three separate, outdated Access Databases to have a one new online system that could handle the administration of ID. It was also important to have the ability to update the system through only a web browser and that all of the data be as secure as possible to protect the privacy of their clients.

The solution

Northern Village undertook a thorough review of the existing management system for the Access to ID program. This included:

  • Review the current ID Software Applications in detail
  • Analyze current data structure to ensure all information will be in new application, and ensure it can be ported over when the new application is done
  • Create the ID Request Management System including:
    • Manage application requests, including its status, and all communication including government responses, and client inquiries
    • Track if the ID is going to be picked up at a remote location
    • Store documents related to the request
    • Report on the use of the system
    • Devise and execute data migration, including OLE objects and attachments of over 20,000 records.
  • Create ID Safe system for the storage of ID including:
    • Using webcam for photo of client to ensure their identity when picking up ID
    • Save all ID that is stored as separate items
    • Record all ID that is checked out, and keep as a transaction record
    • Ability to add notes
  • Have the ability to see overview of client activity
  • Test after each component is complete.
  • Train staff on the use of the software, and the ability to train clients on the use of the system
  • Start testing, running new system in parallel.

Northern Village programmed the software in Ruby on Rails, ensuring that it works of all screens and accessiblity devices.

The Results

Street Health's Access to ID software was launched in April 2019. Since then, they have been tracking hundreds of interactions per month. Kapri Rabin, the Executive Director of Street Health writes:

"The Access to ID system that Northern Village created for us has significantly reduced the time we spend administering our Access to ID program. Since the software is web-based, it can be accessed from anywhere, which helps when clients are inquiring about the status of their application. We have been able to run the software for over 6 months without incident. If there are changes needed, Northern Village is responsive to our needs. We find that by providing these services, our clients have better health outcomes primarily because they have a health card, can obtain housing or a job because they have a birth certificate."