In 1996, Virginians Against Domestic Violence (VADV) and Virginians Aligned Against Sexual Assault (VAASA), both private non-profit organizations, spearheaded a project to develop a web-based system to collect victim information. (These two organizations have since joined forces and are now known as the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, or VSDVAA.)
This innovative and comprehensive data collection system, unique in the nation, was funded by seven different social service agencies in Virginia and was implemented for statewide use on October 1, 1999. Advanced DataTools began working with VADV in 1998 to complete the VAdata system and provides ongoing support and enhancements.
Historically, very little information has been collected from victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Prior to the implementation of VAdata, social workers and victim advocates working with programs throughout Virginia collected and compiled data manually to justify existing and new programs, and to satisfy the reporting requirements of their various funders and state oversight agencies. Preparing the data and reports required weeks and sometimes months and took resources away from the critical services offered by these agencies.
VAdata is developed in IBM Informix 4GL running on IBM Informix 7.3 (donated by Informix Software, Inc.), Perl, HTML, and CGI, Red Hat Linux, and the Apache web server. Users are able to enter all data into forms, either during telephone hot line calls, or after interviews, and to search the database for entries. Reports are now quickly prepared on a regular basis or as needed for various funding sources and supporters.
Advanced DataTools is currently redesigning the web forms and standard reports in Macromedia ColdFusion, and VADV staff will be using Brio Explorer, donated by Brio Software, for ad hoc reporting. The redesigned system will save VAdata users many hours of report development and processing time.
Since VAdata went live, over 500,000 forms have been entered into the system by the 60+ programs and agencies in Virginia.
With the VAdata system, staff members of the participating programs are now able to:
- track trends
- more effectively communicate how their programs are helping victims and their families, and
- more efficiently produce quarterly and annual reports to their funding sources, HHS, and the Virginia Department of Social Services.
In December 2002, VADV’s co-directors received a letter of appreciation from Tim Kaine, the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, expressing his gratitude for their work and the 2001 Domestic Violence Report (based on VAdata) that “presented astounding information and statistics.” He further committed to “keep [their] policy priorities in mind during the upcoming [Virginia] General Assembly session,” proving the power of information to bring about change in the lives of victims.
For more information about their programs and services, visit the VSDVAA website.