Putting tech to good use: how the ERT supported NGOs in Ukraine

monday.com Emergency Response Team

While Kyiv, Ukraine might be 2,800 miles from our monday.com headquarters in Tel Aviv, the humanitarian crisis taking place there is incredibly close to our hearts.

Seeing an aggressive violation of a people’s right to live peacefully and freely is not only heartbreaking but also galvanizing. We condemn violence of any kind and are devastated for all of the innocent people impacted by the war.

While a statement about our support for Ukraine is important, we also want to share the work monday.com is doing on the ground and how technology is helping people in a crisis.

Read on for a story about the resilience of a people, technology as a lifesaving tool, and how every one of us can help ensure the victims get access to the aid they need.

How can we help?

When the war on Ukraine began, everyone – from individuals to billion dollar companies – were all asking the same question: how can we help?

We knew that managing thousands of refugees, ensuring their safety, and tracking their travel was a logistical challenge to say the least — and one that we could help with. But without understanding what the situation over there really was, and what the immediate needs of the teams working there were, we had no way to understand where to get involved.

That’s when we deployed the monday.com Emergency Response Team from Digital Lift, the fledgling philanthropic arm of monday.com, to a displaced persons camp on the border of Poland and Ukraine. Their goal was to understand the challenges on the ground and try to implement processes to help.

Learning and finding our footing

Woman working at desk at displaced persons camp in Poland

The command room at a displaced persons camp in Poland

When our team touched down in Poland, the country taking in the largest amount of refugees, they were met with thousands of mostly women and children on cots in a mall. The army was running the supply logistics and a private event production company was managing the internal logistics. But there was no coordination between the army, the events company, the volunteers, and the refugees themselves. There were teams of  people trying to help, but no system putting the help to its best use.

After two days of learning their systems, speaking with staff and volunteers, and understanding their challenges, we pinpointed a few areas that needed urgent support:

  • There was no registration as refugees entered and exited the camp.
  • Volunteer drivers were helping the refugees leave the camp but pairing the two was inefficient. There was also a serious safety issue – there was no driver validation to ensure a safe and secure ride for the passengers.
  • There was no communication between the camps and the NGOs who had the resources they so desperately needed.

With so few resources and manpower and little streamlined organization, finding time with the head of the camp was virtually impossible. But armed with an understanding of the three workflows that could be improved, Anton Driz, Digital Lifts’ emergency manager, took the head of the camp by the shoulders and said, “We’re your IT team — tell us your biggest problem.”

“We’re your IT team — tell us your biggest problem.”

While the head of the camp was skeptical of our ability to make an impact, he gave us our first task: build a system to register refugees as they enter. With that, we had our first opportunity to add real value, and we set off. Within two hours, the system was up and running.

Tech on a mission

A large crowd of displaced people line up to register using monday.com

What followed can only be described as the ultimate “ah ha” moment. Amidst the nonstop work and commotion, those who were interacting with the new system saw how harnessing technology could help them help more people.

Despite the disorganization we were met with, we got a glimpse of what it looks like when the human spirit preserves against all odds. People who dropped everything to help in a time of crisis worked around the clock on creative and resourceful solutions to pressing problems. They embraced technology and new digital frontiers with hope and optimism as their guides.

Overnight, skepticism turned to motivation as people who had never even heard of monday.com used it to solve real problems.

Equipped with the right technology, their entire perspective changed. Anton said they started, “looking at existing procedures through a monday lens.” They realized that, “everything can be managed. Even things they never thought could be done more efficiently.”

“Everything can be managed. Even things they never thought could be done more efficiently.”

Focusing the efforts of the volunteers and our team around the singular goal of improving the experience of those affected by this crisis resulted in a few initiatives that are currently in place.

Here are the initiatives that are happening online and offline:

  • A registration system that tracks refugees as they enter and exit the camp. This essential database helps decision makers at every level gain visibility into how many people are in the camps and where they’re headed. Now, they can plan for resource allocation in the short and long term. On top of that, we partnered with Omnidea to use their General Caster app. This allowed us to automate the process of handling volunteers driving to different locations across the EU.
  • A digital matchmaking system in partnership with Tech to the Rescue that pairs NGOs with tech companies that can solve their most pressing technology needs. NGOs working to aid in any aspect of the Ukrainian crisis can fill out a simple form describing their pain points and what’s slowing them down. Then, they are quickly paired with a tech company that can solve their challenges. This, in turn, helps NGOs provide their services more quickly and efficiently.
  • An inter-camp logistical system is under construction. It will allow the 15 displaced people camps across Poland to submit their critical needs like food, blankets, medication, and more via form. Then, they will be connected with NGOs that supply the necessary items. This will cut out waste, wait time, and will ensure the critical goods are sent to the places they are actually needed.
  • Free use of the monday.com Work OS for NGOs helping in the crisis. Eligible NGOs have access to unlimited seats for one year and then can enter our Digital Lift program. This will help NGOs plan and execute their work faster and more efficiently.

Clarity in a time of crisis

People working on computers with one person helping another

The monday.com team teaches volunteers how to use the new registration system at a displaced persons camp in Poland

After implementing the solutions we just mentioned, the results were unbelievable. We were able to gain visibility into the situation and share crucial information with entities that could provide additional help. Since then:

  • Nearly 50,000 refugees were registered in the system.
  • Maps of real-time locations of our volunteer drivers were up and running.
  • Data was readily available on the over 7,000 volunteer drivers that were verified or rejected.
  • Over 5,000 volunteers were recorded, along with the languages they spoke, so that relevant volunteers could be tapped to assist in communication.

As our first monday.com team was on their way out, the head of the camp was already working on his own solution — tracking volunteer information to make sure that each volunteer’s skill set would be fully utilized.

And as we write, three teams of monday.com employees have been deployed to three different displaced persons camps in Poland. They’re working to replicate the successful systems from the first camp in two more locations with the hope that soon all 15 Polish camps will be able to use these tools to better serve the victims of this crisis.

Another monday.com team is in Moldova working with government representatives and NGOs to implement the new and effective processes created in Poland.

A bar graph and heat map of refugees and locations

A bar graph indicating how many refugees have been registered alongside a heat map indicating their preferred final locations

How you can help

Digital Lift, the philanthropic arm of monday.com, exists to amplify the work of NGOs around the world by empowering them with tech to help them work more efficiently. Our work with Ukraine has only just begun and is one example of the positive impact technology can have on the incredible work NGOs are committed to.

If you know of NGOs that are working to help in the Ukrainian crisis, they can:

  • Apply here to use monday.com Work OS for free.
  • Register here for Tech to the Rescue under the #TechForUkraine campaign to access digital resources.

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