A platform commissioned by a community voluntary group has now been picked up by a handful of local authorities to coordinate their local volunteers in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Is Prepared was initially developed by Surrey Heath Prepared, a grouping of voluntary organisations in the area, and developed by Continuity Partner, a business continuity and crisis management service that includes a technology function.
Surrey Heath, Hart, Marlow, Spelthorne and Runnymede Councils are now using the platform, which is browser based, was built on the AWS Toolkit and runs in the AWS Cloud.
Continuity Partner is making it available to other local authorities with no hosting or licensing fees during the pandemic but asking for a contribution towards running costs.
The company’s managing director, Matt Hodges-Long, said the platform can now be deployed in a matter of hours.
Beyond council scope
“We are dealing with actions that are not in a local authority’s legal scope,” he said. “They are dealing with the most vulnerable, but the platform is processing the community response to coronavirus for those not within that scope.”
Is Prepared includes forms for requests and offers of support, with the details going directly into databases that are broken down into wards within a council’s area, and volunteers assigned a unique ID. A coordinator for the ward can then liaise with voluntary groups and individuals in ensuring the request is met. Part of the process is to establish which tasks require a Disclosure and Barring Service check on the volunteer.
Hodges-Long said that Surrey Heath was the first authority to deploy the solution in mid-March, and that over three weeks it has registered around 2,500 volunteers and delivered just over 1,000 requests for help.
He added that the company is preparing to roll out a new version that will take minutes to deploy and make it possible to assign a volunteer from the database straight to the ‘ask for help’ and it will automatically inform the person of the task. They will them be able to carry out the job and close the ticket.
“You’re not gathering hugely detailed information and it’s not a full CRM system, but it’s very much a job request platform that you can scale very quickly,” he said.
“Going forward, I think what will probably happen is that post-Covid 19 a lot of these councils will keep this underlying infrastructure in place in case we get a resurgence of some other civil contingencies event, although we haven’t that conversation at the moment.”
Image from Continuity Partner