We are a group of volunteers from different companies and walks of life who have reacted quickly to the “Hack the Crisis” call of Garage48 and Accelerate Estonia for coming up with solutions to the impending negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic. During the hackathon weekend, we have created this website to connect volunteers from local communities with members of those communities who are in need of practical help. Thanks to the sponsorship of Tele2, we have put together a call center to help reach the most vulnerable members of our society. Accelerate Estonia’s sponsorship covers software expenses and extra development costs.
This is us:
- Johanna-Mai Riismaa
- Elise Nikonov
- Maria Lasprilla
- Viktor Lillemäe
- Pavel Fleisher
- Norman Vester
- Kirill Soloviev
How it all began
On Friday, March 13, 2020, Estonian startup foundation Garage48 launched an online hackathon to figure out ways to help communities during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. This is what happened:
- We set up a website with a help request form and a sign-up page for volunteers.
- Through a bit of hacking, we connected a call center and a request form to Trello, which then pushed approved help requests into the Zelos app to notify the closest volunteers.
- We posted a call for volunteers on Facebook in Estonian, Russian and English and received hundreds of applications from volunteers.
How do the web form and call center work?
The call center enables us to receive and channel help requests from at-risk populations who would not use a web form, including people who are not tech-savvy or for other reasons prefer phone calls to using the internet. The solution can be used for example by senior citizens who cannot go shopping and therefore need food or other important items delivered home, or who simply want to have a friendly chat with someone to combat social isolation.
A volunteer-manned call center picks up the calls and reviews requests coming from the website form and does triage – so that no unsuitable requests are posted on the volunteer app (for example, we decided not to allow people to ask for donations through our solution but only allow for volunteer help with practical tasks).
Currently, our call center in Estonia has access to a growing team of 2000+ volunteers who are grouped by larger cities and counties. So far, all requests for help have been picked up and completed by local volunteers on the same day when the request came in.
Our call center solution activates the local community and involves them in helping their most vulnerable neighbors. We are happy to see that our solution is already inspiring others, for example a team in another hackathon is already launching it in Latvia.
Let’s fight this crisis together
- We encourage you to start your own community helpline to support people affected by the corona pandemic in your city, region or country!
- Since we want to support everyone anywhere to make a positive impact on the world, we have open-sourced the API services that enable you to connect tools you’re using to receive and triage help requests (in our case, it’s Trello) to the Zelos app. It can be easily set up by anyone with basic technical skills, and the source code and documentation are all here: https://github.com/zelos-app/covid-api
- Although Zelos was not designed for crisis management, the developers are currently looking for ways to improve their solution for this situation and are open to quickly developing further features which can be useful to manage the quarantine and its consequences.
Get in touch with us to launch your community crisis helpline!