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Using tech to tackle Covid-19

Collaboration is the need of the hour in testing times like these. In South Africa, effective data capturing and analysis are essential for the efficient operation of community aid initiatives. This is why African Data Technologies has joined up with Stellenbosch Unite to develop a system that facilitates and supports the operations of teams on the ground.

We caught up with Wihan Bekker, Matie and CEO of AD-Tech to find out what it took to develop a database that handles logistics, inventory tracking and the capturing of beneficiaries’ data for Stellenbosch Unite.

Stellenbosch Unite is a network of community NGOs and projects mobilised to support, raise money, put administrative measures and financial controls in place and distribute the aid to where it was needed the most.

Efficiency in a time of crisis

Stellenbosch Unite includes role players from Stellenbosch Municipality, Stellenbosch University, Visit Stellenbosch, Ranyaka, SCAN (Stellenbosch Civil Advocacy Network and the Greater Stellenbosch Development Trust. 

“We were approached by Johan from Ranyaka, who we have been working with very closely since we started operating in our local communities, and I can’t give enough credit to what they do in the communities. Ranyaka and SCAN, are basically coordinating everything together with Jeanneret for Stellenbosch Unite – communicating to all the community leaders who are helping distribute the packages to the vulnerable families. Johan knew that we understand the local networks and our team’s technical capability, as well as the fact that we work 20 hour days if we need to get work done for projects. We then started with the project on the same day they asked us to help.”

“Johan knew that we understand the local networks and our team’s technical capability, as well as the fact that we work 20 hour days if we need to get work done for projects. We then started with the project on the same day they asked us to help.” – Wihan Bekker, AD-Tech

Making ground teams more efficient

According to Wihan, the team at AD-Tech quickly realised the work would be much more complicated than initially thought since there are various user interfaces to consider. AD-Tech then developed an easy-to-use app for the volunteers and the local coordinators who are able to work on smartphones, as most are older and prefer to do everything on paper and send it to the volunteers to capture digitally. The data is processed (currently for around 9000 families) and then checked for duplicates between Ranyaka’s network and SCAN, as both have various NGO’s, coordinators and churches operating under them.

“What is keeping Riaan, our mechatronic engineer super busy at the moment is the weighting system we need to implement to determine who needs to get food. There are not enough food parcels for the number of people on the list and there are a few questions they need to answer when they register, and their eligibility score is then ranked according to those answers. To date, we have worked more than 500 hours pro Bono on Stellenbosch Unite.

With so many moving parts, coordinating the Stellenbosch Unite initiative efficiently is no simple task. Fortunately, AD-Tech was quick to bring their skills to the cause to ensure aid is delivered where it is needed most.

Considering that most of our resources are dedicated to the initiative, Ranyaka has been kind enough to help support our recycling team in Klapmuts who are all are working on a community garden we have started at one of the local creches with Ranyaka, and we hope to feed the creche’s kids from the garden in the next few months. We are also on standby 24/7 for the entire Stellenbosch Unite team and Riaan has been tackling manual work through the night some weeks when we get new data that can’t be integrated into the database for various reasons such as bad quality, incomplete etc. Therefore, we are the data management system and integration team forming part of the greater Stellenbosch Unite team, because as I said before, without the groundwork and networks by Ranyaka, this would be impossible to run as efficiently as it is at the moment. 

All of this ties in with what the ground team is doing, because they are the ones experiencing the full effect of the vulnerable, desperate public members and we are here to support them and make their lives easier, every opportunity we can find.”