Horizon House Undertakes Technology Program

Horizon House has initiated a sweeping program that seeks to “develop and implement information technology strategies that improve efficiency and effectiveness of the organization.” A team of staff, board, resident, and family representatives have put together a portfolio of more than 200 technology ideas to improve living and working at Horizon House. We’ve prioritized those ideas and are working down the list of projects, starting with those that are foundational and/or of greatest importance to the organization. One of the early projects is a password-protected website for residents and staff. Read more about this site from Mike Ostrem, Chief Finance and Technology Officer.

Message from Mike

“Technology.” How many of us get a warm feeling when that word is mentioned? I sure don’t. Remember VCRs, those TV recording devices that flashed the number 12:00 constantly, no matter how hard you tried to change the time? While taking my old VCR to Value Village, the attendant asked me if it still flashed 12:00? Yep. Bad technology is like that—it annoys more than it helps. But think about automatic garage door openers. You push a button and the garage door goes up without you leaving the car. Now that’s good technology. And it’s what we want technology to be at Horizon House—a way to get things, do things, or to connect to people in an annoyance-free way, without too much relearning. One of our early technology projects is an in-house website for residents and staff—we’re calling it Horizon House Connect. At first it will contain online directories and calendars of events; in the future it will offer more services and features. You’ll decide if you want to use the Horizon House Connect website or if you prefer the traditional method of accessing this kind of information—paper isn’t going away.

How many of us get a warm feeling when the word “community” is mentioned? Probably more than when technology is mentioned! Community is a core value at Horizon House, and one of our goals is to use technology to enhance the connections among people, events, and activities to foster community. Like the garage door opener, we want our technology to be so straightforward that the most you’ll have to know is what button to push to get what you want.

But again, like the garage door opener, you don’t want just anyone to have it or people will have access to things they shouldn’t. This is why our new Horizon House Connect website will have privacy features that you control, to limit access on your terms. Only you can let people into your “garage” to see your directory information, or calendar of events, or interests. For those who are so inclined, there will be an opportunity to share information, events, and interests with like-minded others. Such connections may inspire new friendships, groups, clubs, or committees—or simply a renewed appreciation for your community of fellow residents.

For now, there is nothing to see, push, or shake, but there soon will be. As our projects unroll we hope that they provide an opportunity to experience the results of “technology” without the burden of having to understand everything behind it. As a tech friend of mine always reminded me when we were developing applications, “It is the hole we want, not the drill bit.”

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