This article first appeared in the Autumn 2016 issue of The Record.
In the law enforcement space, every second counts. Improving efficiency and empowering staff can mean the difference between a crime being committed or prevented, whether or not the public’s safety is placed into jeopardy, and in extreme circumstances, the difference between life and death.
Non-governmental organisation Foundation Paraguay works with local citizens, micro finance companies and other agencies to eliminate poverty in more than 45 countries across Latin America, South America and Asia. The organisation aims to analyse why people are poor and provide them with the tools to help themselves out of poverty.
Foundation Paraguay’s field workers visit families in underprivileged communities to gather information about their poverty level and access to essential services. In the past, field workers spent three hours completing paper-based surveys for each family and then returned to the office to enter this information into a central system so micro finance companies could evaluate families for loans.
Today, field workers use Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) Visual Survey Platform, a Microsoft Windows 10 application that is integrated with the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Now, surveys take less than 20 minutes, meaning the organisation can complete five times more per day and get instant access to real-time data and loan decisions.
“The HPE Windows 10 solution takes our organisation from a completely manual client survey process to automated technology that does the job better, quicker, at a lower cost, and in a user-friendlier way for our customers,” says Martin Burt, founder and executive director of Foundation Paraguay.
Today, the organisation is able to quickly gather information from thousands of families.
“We’re working with real data coming from the source – the families themselves – and connecting the needs we find in the field to solutions in a very fast and efficient way,” explains Jimena Vallejos, Poverty Spotlight coordinator. “Digital surveys are taken on tablet where we can see clear pictures and really involve the family in the whole process.”
All of the survey data is stored in Microsoft Azure, where it can be analysed for patterns by Microsoft Power BI. This enables Foundation Paraguay to identify common factors and monitor fluctuations in poverty level so they can prioritise care and resources.
“The technology we developed with HPE and Microsoft allows us to bring everybody to the field, so now you have a true bottom-up approach to solving poverty and that changes the whole paradigm,” explains Burt. “An illiterate lady who cannot read and write couldn’t describe her situation in the old surveys, but with photos and the visual survey she can very quickly select where she currently is and what she needs to come up with a personalised plan to overcome poverty.”
Foundation Paraguay has used HPE’s Visual Survey Platform to empower communities in 25 countries – and other marginalised communities – to reduce their level of poverty.
“Everybody has a smartphone, the world has changed and if we do it well, we can empower the marginalised populations of the world to crowdsource their needs to different government agencies,” Burt says. “Technology can render obsolete the intermediaries between the services the poor need and the poor themselves. It really empowers the poor when they can self-diagnose their level of poverty.”
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