The Community Alliance of Baja California Sur (Alianza Comunitaria de Baja California Sur) was recently formed to help in tackling various challenges that the current COVID-19 pandemic has brought about on multiple fronts in Baja California Sur, Mexico. The Alliance brings together a large number of civil society organisations and private business partners in very close collaboration with federal, state and municipal government institutions.
Providing support during the COVID-19 pandemic using georeferenced data.
Part of our work in the Cancer Registry of Baja California Sur involves the analysis of medical records and relating these to other variables such as patient environment (household location, education/work location) and general demographics with the goal of performing cluster analyses and conduct scientific research to ultimately help in the formulation of better-targeted public health policies and budgets.
At present, our field staff collects all data by hand on paper and enters patients’ locations manually. Collecting data like this takes a long time and transcribing the information to feed our databases also takes very long. Additionally, the accuracy of locations is often poorly recorded.
To tackle this, I started researching various platforms and options last March and that is how I came across Fulcrum. To test it, I started a free trial using the Street Light Maintenance Checklist app around my neighborhood. After a couple of hours’ work, the results were amazing! I mapped more than 200 points in a safe, agile and intuitive way and the data were available right away to conduct analyses in different formats and platforms.
This was the solution I was looking for. I see additional enormous potential for future applications in the Cancer Registry. This is as far as I got when the COVID-19 emergency reached us here in La Paz, Baja California Sur, and I temporarily redirected my efforts to the Community Alliance of Baja California Sur.
For the Alliance, the advantage of using Fulcrum will be the possibility of generating in record time something that we could not do using other options. For a start, we will be recording data about the person or institution receiving support packages in combination with their georeferenced location and pictures. As non-profit organizations, this will help enormously in making our operations transparent and easily accessible to anyone as well as in generating reports for our donors and government agencies. We will be generating new databases that nobody currently has (not even the government).
This will also help us in efficiently allocating our resources, avoiding duplicating efforts and duplicate delivery of support packages. Our current estimates show that we could be delivering around 40,000 support packages throughout the state in 15-day periods in several rounds. Considering that our state is very long (just under 1,000 km) and largely rural, efficiency and management capabilities to oversee a large number of field volunteers/staff will be of paramount importance to strategically deploy and follow up our operations.
Alongside deliveries, we will be collecting data about the current and future needs of families and medical institutions as well as pinpointing their more pressing needs. In parallel, we will also collect data to stay ahead of potentially high-risk COVID-19 cases in association with other conditions such as cancer, other respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, obesity or diabetes.
Fulcrum will greatly facilitate all this for us. Additionally, cellular/internet coverage is often unreliable when outside the main urban centres. The possibility of working offline and syncing when networks are available will also be vital. Moreover, the environment, appearance and experience for the end user are very friendly and intuitive which will save us valuable time for training that we currently do not have.
As of April 16, we had recorded and geo-referenced more than 1,240 support-package deliveries. It is also important to note that the government asked us to include a small survey about food security alongside our delivery records, so Fulcrum is also helping with this in the same app.
Besides support-package deliveries, in the past days we have been training several groups of volunteers in the use of Fulcrum, including participants from our armed forces (Army, Navy, National Guard and State Police) that have been supporting and greatly facilitating our operations. Again, Fulcrum’s user-friendliness has been evident as we need no more than 10-15 minutes to train new users and now even some of the first trainees are training new users.
Finally, for both the Cancer Registry and the Alliance, the automated generation of databases with Fulcrum will enable us to use artificial intelligence algorithms and tools to stay on top of things and produce analyses to keep our efforts focused.