The Connect2 Community Network keeps people at the center. In 2021, we launched our first consumer engagement process to hear what community members want and need from the network. We partnered with five local community-based organizations, Association of Zambians in Seattle, WA (AZISWA), Hepatitis Education Project (HEP), Recovery Café, Sound Generations, and WAServes, to reach over 80 community members through interviews and focus groups. Here is what we heard:

Community members want access to data

We asked community members which of the potential functionalities of the Connect2 Community Network are important to them and many community members placed accessing data in their top three priorities. They would like to access lists of resources, contact information for organizations where they are accessing services, and a record of services they have accessed before. This finding highlights the importance of shifting away from models where data only flows from community to organizations, and towards models where data flows both ways.

Community members want to remain in control of their data

Community members were presented with scenarios where they are asked to share their data, such as sharing their medical information between healthcare providers or their personal information with social services. To feel comfortable in these situations, participants shared that they need to understand why their data is being shared and how it relates to their care. They also want to control which pieces of data are shared and with whom. Centering community members’ agency and ownership of their data will be critical for the Connect2 Community Network to succeed.

People want to be part of efforts to improve the lives of their communities

We asked community members whether they would be interested in a variety of future activities that would help improve access to services for themselves and their communities. The vast majority of participants were eager for chances to be part of work that would benefit the broader community. People also shared the type of support they would need to participate meaningfully, including compensation, language services, access to transportation and technology, and supportive facilitators. These findings will help the Connect2 Community Network plan future activities to engage community members in the design and implementation of the network.

The insights we gained from these interviews and focus groups are invaluable and will inform the future of our work. The partner organizations who led these interviews also reported that what they learned through this process will shape how they continue to serve community members. To receive updates and join meetings about our findings and how we plan to embed them into the Connect2 Community Network, reach out to our Community Engagement Manager, Sully Moreno.

This blog was cross-posted from Connect2.org