Efforts to fight COVID-19 globally reinforced how crucial digital solutions are to scaling crisis response, and our own experience underscored the value that technology organizations can provide with dedicated teams for daily support in meeting the rapidly evolving needs in a crisis.
Today, Dimagi has officially launched its Crisis Response Corps (CRC): a team dedicated to rapidly building durable digital solutions for immediate impact in emergency and humanitarian response.
Dimagi honed its rapid response methodology during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing rapid support to national governments, U.S. states, and iNGOs in 40 countries. At the onset of the pandemic, we released a series of template solutions to support contact tracing and other pandemic response efforts. These templates served as a starting point but required significant adaptation to provide value. We learned from this and began investing in October of 2020 in developing digital solutions for equitable vaccine delivery, even before COVID vaccines were approved for EUA globally.
The time spent building solutions in advance proved valuable as multiple governments, such as Somalia and Jamaica, were able to quickly launch and scale nationally to get their vaccination campaigns started on the right foot in a matter of weeks, rather than months or years.
A report from Johns Hopkins explained that CommCare “can facilitate and introduce efficiencies in monitoring, surveillance, detection, and prevention of COVID-19,” going on to cite CommCare’s superior ease of use, as well as its use as a COVID-19 response tool for 20,000 frontline workers.
The newly formed CRC will work to maintain and codify the practices developed during this initial effort, with an aim to rapidly mobilize to assist humanitarian responses to disasters in the future. It is also Dimagi’s hope to support existing platforms and partnerships in transitioning from COVID-19-specific platforms in the immediate term to more generalizable platforms for routine immunization in the future.
Rapidly deploying solutions, especially ones that can create lasting value, requires extensive preparation. By having Dimagi preemptively invest in templated solutions, deployment methodologies, and maintenance systems of critical response infrastructure, emergency response organizations can reduce the time to field of these tools and focus on providing emergency services.
There is still much work to be done to build similarly thorough template solutions for response activities like contact tracing, tele-training, home-based care, disaster survey systems, emergency health protocols, and more. Our team will work to consolidate the technical advances and maintain industry-wide institutional knowledge gained during the pandemic.
“The Corps is a natural continuation of the systems we set up last year in response to COVID-19,” says Dimagi Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Neal Lesh. “ It reflects a lot of the lessons we learned from what worked and didn’t work as well. I’m thrilled that we’re forming a dedicated team to increase our ability to respond to a range of crises and support relief for some of the most vulnerable populations in the world, and are putting in the effort now to be better prepared to do this.”
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