As the Covid-19 pandemic shutters communities across the globe, many high-risk and vulnerable groups, like the elderly, disabled and housebound, are finding themselves without reliable access to essential goods like food and medications, putting them in potentially dire situations.
We think our Beacon Dispatch Platform can help mitigate these problems and bring some level of relief to the neediest among us by helping communities to organize and manage their own resource delivery networks.
Beacon is a text message-based dispatching platform that was originally designed for at-risk and vulnerable populations without reliable access to emergency care.
With the outbreak of Covid-19, Beacon is now being redeployed to support and manage community-based resource delivery networks in the US (MN, WA, CT), Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic to enable delivery of food and medications, and to conduct welfare checks for high-risk and vulnerable populations.
Beacon works by allowing organizations and communities to alert, coordinate and track responders using whatever mobile phone is in their pocket — with or without Internet.
To set up a community-based resource delivery network, a few basic roles need to be filled:
- Dispatchers — Dedicated individuals who can use Beacon to alert and coordinate responders
- Responders — Community members who can pick up and deliver goods, make house visits to check in on at-risk people, or provide other essential services to reduce their vulnerability
- Demand — The names, locations and contact info of high-risk and vulnerable populations with pressing, unmet needs, like food, medications or other essential supplies
- Supply — The names, locations and contact info of business and/or individuals who can meet those needs
- Access Hotline* — A phone number that people can call to donate supplies and/or request support
*This number can be whatever number is already available — it can be your regular office number or your personal phone number — but if you’re looking for your own dedicated hotline number and call-intake software, we can help you set that up very quickly through Twilio’s Flex Platform (see below to contact us for more info).
The primary goal of Beacon in Covid-19 response efforts is to lessen the burden on local 911 and EMS providers by improving the capacity of community-based networks to respond to low-acuity calls. We’re offering Beacon free of charge to volunteer and/or non-profit community groups involved in meeting the needs of high-risk and vulnerable populations. If interested, please send us an email or call 917-803-5411 and leave a VM with your contact info and a short description of your organization and how you’d like to use Beacon.
The world is not a particularly safe place right now, but that’s also the point — we’re trying to help communities mitigate risks, lessen the burden on overwhelmed health services, and ultimately prevent premature death and disability.
We can’t guarantee the safety of people using Beacon (this would be true even if there wasn’t a global pandemic going on — please read our terms and conditions), so it’s up to you and your organization/community to follow best practices regarding Personal Protective Equipment, exposure mitigation, and general safety precautions.
Included here are some resources to help you and your team best reduce your risks of contracting the virus:
- Covid-19: Frequently Asked Questions about Personal Protective Equipment — US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Rational use of personal protective equipment for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) — World Health Organization (WHO)
We all have to remain vigilant in these uncertain times — if you or any of your team members are experiencing flu-like symptoms, or believe you may have been exposed to someone who was infected, you should immediately self-isolate and follow local quarantine guidelines.