Taxonomy 101

It's Taxonomy 101 time! Last week we explored the definition of taxonomy and uncovered the ten service categories. Today we'll break it down and unravel a bit more behind the lexicon of taxonomy. 

According to the AIRS I&R Training Manual, every one of the 9.000+ taxonomy terms has a full definition and an alpha-numeric code that gives it a unique position within the hierarchy. There are six potential levels of hierarchy from the broadest to the narrowest concept. 

Maybe you're searching for "shelter"; what option may arise after you hit the search key, or one of our Community Information Specialists conduct a search? Here are some examples:

  • Animal Shelters
  • Bus Stop Shelters
  • Extreme Cold Weather Shelters
  • Immigrant/Refugee Shelters
  • Mass Care Shelters
  • Shelter Information Lines
  • Wildlife Shelters
  • ...and many more!

As you can see, all of these options contain the word "shelter", but it may not be exactly what you were seeking. The specific term of "shelter" can be found across the ten service categories. For example, "Wildlife Shelters" is under the branch of Environmental Quality and Public Health/Safety, while "Extreme Cold Weather Shelters" is housed under Basic Needs

WIth that, we'll show how a broad topic or service category is narrowed down: 

  1. Basic Needs - B
  2. Housing/Shelter - BH
  3. Emergency Shelter - BH-1800
  4. Homeless Shelter - BH-1800.8500
  5. Extreme Cold Weather Shelters - BH-1800.8500-185

What is an "Extreme Cold Weather Shelter"?: Programs that provide overnight accommodations during times of extreme cold for people who are temporarily at risk of exposure due to being homeless. 

AIRS provides seven other 5th level shelter terms including

  • Community Shelter
  • Day Shelter
  • Homeless Motel Vouchers
  • Homeless Safe Parking Programs
  • Missions
  • Urban Campsites
  • Wet Shelters

Each have their own unique definition and are authorized for our center to utilize when categorizing services and searching for resources. If any of these 5th level terms are authorized, we can use them all. Otherwise, we would attach the 4th level term - Homeless Shelter - to many, many records. This would slow down a search for you or our staff, and a very specific need may not be recorded for data and quality assurance purposes. 

Thank you for reading! We'll be back again next to uncover more within the world of taxonomy. 


Posted on February 13, 2018 and filed under taxonomy.