DRHE launches new app for public to alert teams to location of rough sleepers

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) has launched a new free app which will enable members of the public to alert them to the location of anyone sleeping rough, so that outreach teams can make contact with them.

Up to now the only options open to the public were to call a phone number or use an online form.

While the teams know from experience where most people are sleeping, dropping a pin on the new Dublin Rough Sleeper App will allow for greater accuracy when it comes to rough sleeper alerts from the public, enabling our teams to reach people in need that much faster.

By simply logging the location on the App anyone can provide the outreach teams with an exact location of the person who is sleeping rough. Once the teams receive the alert, they can immediately go to the area and offer support to the person.

Dublin Simon Community, on behalf of the DRHE, currently operate street outreach teams whose job it is to provide on-street support and to offer accommodation options for people sleeping rough. These teams are working proactively on the streets, 365 days a year from early morning to late each night, engaging with people who are sleeping on the streets and helping them avail of the emergency accommodation that is provided.

“This app will enable us to respond in real time to alerts from members of the public,” said Eileen Gleeson, Director DRHE. “We are encouraging as many people as possible to download the app and to let us know about anyone they see sleeping rough. This will help our Street Outreach teams to find the person and offer them support. 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 for free by a team of Microsoft Ireland volunteers as part of the company’s annual Hackathon. Over the course of several months, the team worked closely with DRHE and Dublin Simon Community to create an innovative app which provides real-time data to outreach teams and provides a positive experience for users. It’s hoped the app will be made available nationwide in future.

Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director, Microsoft Ireland said: “Microsoft is proud to be able to support the vital work of the DRHE and the Dublin Simon Community in protecting the most vulnerable in our society through the development of the Dublin Rough Sleeper App. This builds on the strong partnership we’ve forged with Dublin Simon as demand for their vital services grow. By coming together virtually as a team over several months and as part of our recent Hackathon, we were able to use the power of technology to help connect outreach teams with those needing emergency accommodation.”

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.

"We would like to thank the public for submitting rough sleeper alerts to assist our teams and we want to assure them that every alert is followed up. 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,” said Ciaran King Dublin Outreach Manager with Dublin Simon. “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 who are already an amazing support to our team, the geographical accuracy of this new app will help to cut down on time spent searching for clients on the streets, meaning that the people who urgently need our support will have rapid access to it."

Click here to watch a video on the new app: https://youtu.be/Y6M5beQzSsI

This app is now available on both Apple and Android platforms free of charge.

Microsoft Ireland is a long-standing partner of Dublin Simon Community, most recently providing over 40,000 meals to their service users and staff in the wake of the pandemic and supporting the organisation through volunteering, fundraising and skills sharing.