Big Data Helping San Francisco to Take Care of its Homeless

Big Data

The San Francisco local government is now tapping to big data to solve its homeless crisis in the city. / Photo by: JCruzTheTruth via Wikimedia Commons


A news item published on revealed how the city of San Francisco in California, USA has turned to using big data to better deal with the large-scale homeless problem that has become a bigger issue over time.

In the past few years, the city has been slowly creating a system to better track every single homeless man, woman, and child in all of San Francisco, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle last week.

There are two main goals for this endeavor. One is to better tailor the housing program in the city, rehabilitation for the people who are in most need, as well as other services aimed to alleviate their condition. The other is to better eliminate wasteful duplication of services and efforts to be able to coordinate more efficiently and provide a better experience.

The main idea is that homelessness counselors and the people running shelters will be able to quickly access health, housing, jail, and counseling information for each homeless person in the city. These details will then allow them to find the appropriate services and guide them away from what did not work previously

This new program, which has been dubbed as the One System, has just started early of last month. In time, the city hopes to see a sizeable drop in the number of homeless people and to fix the issues on the streets.

London Breed, current mayor of the city and county of San Francisco and advocate for a better tracking system ever since her tenure on the Board of Supervisors back in 2012, stated, “I’m really excited about this. People say we need to fix the problem, get people off the street…well, it’s not that simple.”

She continued that the new system will be able to provide a “big picture” for each person, with the ultimate goal of being able to combine all the information that is scattered across the dozen city departments.


“The trouble has always been that one person would be in one system, and another would go to get help somewhere else, and then they’d have to do a lot of different interviews with different places. Some people would give up, or not get sent to the right places,” she concluded.