The City of Bloomington, BMG Hack, and the volunteers of the Combine have begun the work behind this year’s challenge! We are doing things a little differently this year. Instead of launching the challenge at The Combine as we have done in past years, the City of Bloomington will be evaluating teams before The Combine starts, giving participants a chance to showcase their solutions and strategies on The Combine main stage.

This year’s challenge is to deploy a working Open Referral compatible system for Bloomington and the surrounding community. Open Referral is an emerging standard for collecting and sharing social services in a community.

The City of Bloomington and BMG Hack have started aggregating resources for our community in the following Airtable base: 

The format of this base follows the Open Referral Data Specification:

For this challenge, it’s up to the teams participating to create a web-based interface to make this information easily accessible and searchable for everyone.

This could be achieved through deploying an existing open-source solution:

However, it is also acceptable to implement a solution from scratch or using a web-application framework.

The City of Bloomington has a Vue-based design system available that could be leveraged for your implementation:

TAXONOMY USED – Human Services and Human Situations

It is also acceptable to export the Airtable data into a local database for the web application. However, this would also require an administration interface for adding and updating information by authorized organizations. This approach would have the benefit of allowing other organizations in our community that collect this information to make updates to the database. These organizations include:

  • United Way
  • Monroe County Library
  • 211
  • Non Profit Alliance
  • IU
  • etc


Web-based interface that:

  • Is backed by an open referral schema data source (airtable or custom database)
  • Is responsive (formatted nicely for both mobile and desktop interfaces)
  • Provides the ability to browse by category
  • Allows free form searching for a service
  • Allows searching by location
  • Is published with an open source license on Github


These features are not required, but would help with the adoption of the service:

  • Back-end administration interface for managing updates to database
  • Multiple / unlimited administration accounts
  • Remove dependency on Airtable
  • Printable guides
  • Utilize style elements from City of Bloomington’s design system

As in previous years, the City of Bloomington is offering a cash reward of $1000 to the winning teams or individuals. Evaluations will favor user-friendly solutions that are also designed with an eye toward ease of maintenance and updates.

If you’re interested in finding out further details about the evaluation criteria, or the challenge in general, please contact Charles Brandt at

The participants have been diligently working and will continue efforts leading up to the event April 4th-6th. Buy your tickets HERE now to come be a part of this amazing initiative and see the winning solutions come to life!