Our submission is in part the video, in part the PDF file attachment describing the overall submissions themes asked of us. We have added a login to try the linked solution, please login with firstname.lastname@example.org and admin123 to see it at https://dev.aiditto.se.
AID IT TO provides a dynamic sourcing capability and platform
AID IT TO is a SaaS-solution that enables municipalities source what is needed by easily, quickly and safely organising help and donations.
AID IT TO provides a dynamic and integrated sourcing capability and preparedness to support crisis management and sourcing teams. We fundamentally improve societal resilience with the SaaS platform and the ability to quickly form new sourcing networks. We fulfil acute needs in society with rapid sourcing of help and donations from civic society with ease and safety.
In the Covid-19 crisis, AID IT TO fulfils health care needs through donations and help with 3d printing materials, production shifting, assembly work and disinfectants. With the forest fires it was about getting help from farmers to spray areas with water. In the refugee situation it was about organising clothes, baby carriers and household items. The platform adapts to the crisis at hand.
We are already preparing a public pilot in June with three municipalities in southern Sweden.
An ineffective municipal crisis response needs to be addressed
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a sudden acute shortage of supply with life and death consequences. The increasing and unmet demands for protective gear, disinfectants and pharmaceuticals have put the very core of our healthcare and welfare at stake. It is key to gain an ability to get access to critical resources and equipment immediately.
Most municipalities have invested a significant amount of labour in emergency response teams that reach out to the general public through existing web pages, social media and in other ways to collect 3d printing materials, disinfectants and personal protective equipment (PPE) to a centralized place and then to redistribute it to those that need it.
In Sweden, three main issues has been pointed out in the crisis response: preparedness in regions and municipalities, care for the elderly and an unclear division of responsibilities. "We need to improve emergency preparedness," says Olivia Wigzell, General Director of Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare. Specifically, the municipalities did not get enough support from the authorities. The ongoing training that was in place since long back with the County Management Boards did not reach the municipalities; with the consequence that relevant systems, methods and tools were not in place for them.
It feels wrong to give when a platform makes money from your acts of giving. A strong platform should be not-for-profit and enrich neither receivers, nor the matchmaker. Such a commercial platform, even if served by ads, is fragile and with incorrect incentives for those involved financially. The key elements of public safety, allocation and prioritization are there to make for the best societal outcomes. The allocation decisions have to be made based on policies governed by the public sector.
Interviews with officials on municipal, regional, county and national agency level clarified an important concern in that any platform created must secure that public procurement and direct procurement does not get impacted. No information may go into a platform that disqualifies a supplier. All products that can and should be purchased through public procurement must be connected directly to the public purchasers, and never be allowed to have information about them enter the platform to create information asymmetry.
To allow a system of allocation to the highest bidder leads to price increase, incorrect allocations, and that profits are made by profiteers in a situation that does not warrant it. In addition to incorrect pricing, key perspectives to include is safety, allocation and prioritization of materials flowing through the system, that can, and should only be done by the public actors, or by their instructions and policies.
We believe a flexible sourcing capability should not be limited to COVID-19. Previous crises has experienced shortage surges of clothes (refugees/migrants), water tanks attached to tractors (forest fires) and whatnot. Prioritisation, allocation and safety needs must be governed by policymakers and municipal coordinators, and not allow profiteering of the crises.
A digital storefront of demands
AID IT TO is about how to turn good intentions into valuable giving. To help society collaborate by making municipal, regional and public needs available in an aggregated form, in a digital storefront. A capability that enables citizens and businesses to know how and with what they can support in the best way, and support supplying what they provide (by giving or selling) in a way that is easy to receive by functions within municipalities. Our platform for flexible sourcing is built for original products, volunteering, certified/certifiable goods and 3D printing, sewing, and other local manufacturing.
The technical platform is scalable and was built to launch and scale to a large number of instances. The solution is built using React and Material-UI for the frontend parts, and the highly reputed Nidulus platform for the backend; a platform for distributed microservices. Specific APIs integrates the two to allow functionality such as seamless upload of data and metadata, authentication, matching of items, and more importantly a personalized and localised platform by region by authorities.
Authorities can create their demand descriptions, with no details on the amounts, edit text and language on any page, and do so without having to deal with the underlying technology. Updates are made through a built-in localized Content Management System (CMS) that supports multiple languages, where content editors can use a familiar editing environment for all editorial content on the website.
Supply coordinator logins from municipalities are integrated through SAML single sign on with Azure Active Directory to ensure no local passwords are used. Some materials are sensitive and needs to have the donor identified, such material donations get protected by Swedish BankID signatures (cost of 1SEK/signature) to verify the Social Security Number of the donor, in Sweden. Other systems will be used throughout Europe.
Contributors that donate materials browse current demands, and adds a proposal to donate based on what is needed. Once their materials get allocated, they get a notification where not only the central location is possible, but also a more relevant drop-off location. They get thanked and have the option to get a public personalized unique thank you page with a unique link with a thank you note (with optional personal information) from the municipality that can be shared through social media to generate traffic and more donations. The thank you page will only be enabled once goods have been confirmed by the receiver through a secure QR code hand-off in logged in mode.
A machine learning workflow concept has been developed and is relevant for problems of scale in the platform. The workflow assures that when the platform scales, automation can augment many tasks for users of the platform. The initial use case is to identify and propose probable matches between demand and donations to speed up matchmaking, not only for identifying correlatable pairs, but also to propose based on historic use and, with a validated statistical dataset available, also to propose correct allocations and prioritizations based on outcomes.
What makes AID IT TO stand out from similar initiatives?
AID IT TO has an Advisory Board consisting of experts and participants from Swedish government agencies, municipalities, the county administrative board, our region and from a research institute specialized in certifying healthcare materials. They see that most collaboration in Sweden is done through Excel sheets that are shared manually and through phone calls. Collaboration with the public is done mainly through centralized collection points, in the digital space by email, in the physical space in the city centers, usually City Hall.
The need is real, the experts from every part of the Swedish public system say what we are doing is the right thing, and the level of connectedness is in their view rare. They wished they had had our solution when COVID-19 became a pandemic.
The solutions that are the closest are to connect volunteering (the Nyby app comes to mind) with citizens who need help shopping. Other initiatives look purely from a logistical point of view and fail to see the change involved. What sets us apart is the change journey, that we see that real change is needed, in terms of a new mindset, a new tool, new processes, and most of all, a new capability for collaboration, across municipalities in a way that breaks down barriers.
The solution scales. Both in terms of instances and collaboration; and moreover in the applicability. The migrant crisis across Europe, that we still experience would have been helped greatly by help coordinating on the demand side. A unit head at Region Gotland shared how the platform would have helped them during the forest fires of 2019. The supply always finds a way to make their needs known; however the demand side needs help to aggregate their needs in a relevant way to make them available in a storefront.
The demand must be known in a way that makes sense for the general public: businesses and citizens.
The digital platform needs, and how to perform the necessary change management, was expressed in close cooperation with members of the crisis management team of the City of Malmö, on their free time. They formed part of the first few weeks of solution development and demos, participated and offered feedback to make the solution a strong fit to their needs.
AID IT TO has received close to 50k€ initial funding through Sweden’s Innovation Agency Vinnova to perform the initiative “AID IT TO – Pilot Project Preparation”, together with three municipalities in Southern Sweden (Helsingborgs stad, Lunds kommun and Tomelilla kommun), Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), and the County Administrative Board of Skåne. The preparations are towards a public pilot that engages the general public and businesses to share what they can give and supply, through the platform, and in exchange gain social validation through optional publicly available personal thank you notes that may be shared in social media as tokens of recognition for their contributions in this crisis.
We see and hear about a similar situation across Europe and beyond, with limited collaboration in the public space and linear, silo-oriented, centralized inefficient solutions. The solution space includes some public platforms that are disconnected from the public actors, that become yet another untrusted and unverified location to look for goods (such as the PPE Exchange in the UK). It also includes volunteering collaboration apps such as Nyby for helping with shopping and other needs, which is out of scope for AID IT TO. We primarily focus on the giving part of the equation, and offer information about how products to be sold can be connected to the right public procurement platforms.
That AID IT TO is a not-for-profit social enterprise is received well by the public actors we are in contact with, and the general public. They feel it makes sense and increase the willingness to give and contribute through the platform.
A capability, not just a platform
We believe in a society where materials and volunteering coordination in times of crisis is not managed from the viewpoint of centralized coordination and through email addresses that takes a week or longer to get a response from. Rather we see a capability to collaborate between nodes in a network of peers, with whole systems thinking, as part of a scalable approach. We see a need for our society to be transformed fundamentally to become digital in the true sense. Especially to address times of crisis.
When society faces supply chain disruption, extreme demand or unexpected needs, sourcing for those unmet demands requires a different kind of collaboration between actors in society. It is here that preparedness through the implemented AID IT TO Dynamic Sourcing Capability makes a huge difference, the capability is ready to use when a crisis hits.
With AID IT TO, receivers know where to communicate their demands, municipality coordinators have easy ways to make their demands visible to the general public, and municipalities know how to direct traffic to their platform through social media and other channels. Contributors from the general public knows where they can offer their support to the situation at hand – as volunteers, with original products or in other ways such as 3d printing, sewing or with their equipment such as tractors and other machinery.
The AID IT TO Dynamic Sourcing Platform is where new forms of sourcing can be established quickly, through effective and flexible collaboration, when the normal rules of the game no longer apply. The full implementation and regular training in the capability (processes, mindset and the ways of working) are what enables the quick emergency response to put the capability into full operations and to enable relevant communications with the general public on how to contribute.
We offer a structured and methodical approach to societal change towards how to turn good intentions into valuable giving. We include the latest thought leadership in the change management domain. The first asset we build is an implementable dynamic sourcing capability for times of crisis, and to make life easier between crises for needs and availability of equipment and materials between collaborators. We build a collaboration capability that can be framed, governed and activated when needed.
The AID IT TO business model
The business model for AID IT TO is to support organisations in the acquisition of a capability for dynamic sourcing when regular supply chains of materials and services are disrupted, and when new needs for sourcing and volunteering rises fast.
What is offered organisations is in essence two things:
The AID IT TO Dynamic Sourcing Capability – The implementation of the societal capability for cross-sector collaboration to source items and services that fulfil unmet needs, through alternate channels: training and preparedness to act through a new mindset of systemic thinking, ways of working, and relevant processes in the use of the platform to produce positive outcomes. (a one time implementation fee per municipality)
The AID IT TO Dynamic Sourcing Platform - A branded digital Software as a Service tool that connects demands with possibilities to fulfil them by engaging companies and citizens through marketing (some organisations such as help organisations may potentially only buy the platform as they do not need the cross-sector collaboration capability) (a recurring yearly fee per municipality, based on size and cost drivers that we will get an idea of during the already-planned public pilots with three municipalities)
The business model is to offer an initial custom implementation with each municipality to manage change and the municipal implementation aspects of the platform, training, integration of ways of working, integration of IT, roll-out, assign roles and responsibilities etc. The platform itself is subscribed to by the municipality, hosted by AID IT TO, and continuously enhanced based on the needs from all involved.
Our EUvsVirus hacking experience
Reach out, bring the outside in, be ready to learn and pivot, trust the team fully, self-organize, delegate everything, dance with the fear, make decisions only in true ambiguity, trust peers and instinct. Get help from mentors and spend time with them, make the team participate in getting the outside perspective.
Hardest was to keep to, and evolve the shared vision. To keep communicating it, and keep iterating it. Write it down often, every single time there are new angles, previously unresolved. Take the product ownership role seriously, it is key. Begin with the end in mind (submission), make a rough plan, make a lot of effort on discussing the shared vision with the team writing the submission and video; it needs to be crisp and clear to them, they must be able to articulate it!
We make progress
We started the journey April 3rd and built an early prototype during Hack the Crisis Sweden, and are now finalising our MVP towards a planned release during May. Platform scale-up across Europe and beyond is a daunting task being planned for, with local change management included in the implementation package.