Monday, September 27, 2010

Aidmatrix Participates in Exercise 24

Friday, I participated in Exercise 24. Exercise 24 is an international collaborative multidisciplinary exploration of communication, logistics coordination, and response to a seismic event that generates an off shore oil spill, displaced communities requiring shelter, and damage to critical infrastructure inland. The event has significant involvement from the military, with additional participation from the private sector, emergency management, nonprofit and academic organizations. University of California San Diego provided the facilities and other event logistics support.

Over a few days, Exercise24 tested and explored solutions to emergency response, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief challenges associated a major earthquake within the San Andreas Fault System. I was able to assess leading edge and experimental technologies. From the nonprofit sector, provided much of the infrastructure, while had some of the most compelling chat and SMS capabilities. At the appropriate times, Aidmatrix leveraged Social Media tools to simulate communications around an activation of different components of The Aidmatrix Network.

The images below are not real. They were part of Exercise 24.

Keith Thode
Chief Operating Officer

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Aidmatrix Deploys Microsoft's Windows Azure Platform

Aidmatrix recently deployed our first production solution on Microsoft's Windows Azure platform. This is very exciting as we have been researching, prototyping, and planning out how we would leverage Azure for a couple of years. This solution is an integration between two different modules in our supply chain management (SCM) solution set. It enables transactions to be shared in near real-time between the two modules. We selected Windows Azure (and in particular SQL Azure) to provide this integration as it answered the question as to how to simply integrate a 100% SaaS SCM Module and a second module which can be delivered both via SaaS and/or installed locally on a PC that synchronizes periodically. When run locally on a PC, the module enables the user to work without Internet connectivity and then synchronize their data back to the SaaS implementation when there is Internet connectivity (this was recently used in Haiti and is next up to be implemented in Zimbabwe). Congrats to the Aidmatrix team and thanks to all the Microsoft folks who volunteered their expertise to help us make this happen.

Michael Ross
VP - Delivery

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pena House Eco Home Project

The Pena House team was able to build an environmentally friendly multi-use building for their feeding program, church/community space, and coordinator housing. Aidmatrix provided local financial management, a Virtual Aid Drive for them to raise money, and strategic donor management services for this small project in Peru.

This was an all-volunteer, in-country effort with fundraising and project management for the Eco-Home also being performed on a voluntary basis by a Peruvian Student (living in the US during the school year) and another volunteer. Enjoy a few of the pictures provided to us by the Pena House team.

Meet the Family

Meet the Church

The Building Begins...

And the Project is Complete!

Aidmatrix is honored to help groups and organizations like the Pena House Project make their world a little bit better to live in.

Please help the Pena House Project with their future projects by donating here

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hurricanes Katrina & Rita - Remembering 5 years later

When Hurricane Katrina hit, most of our Aidmatrix team was working safely from home. The day after Katrina hit, we were online buying airplane tickets to get us as close to Louisiana as possible. Our partners at Adventist Community Services (ACS) were ready to move in with supplies, but they needed temporary facilities in which to stage them. Our partners at Feeding America were trucking in supplies, but all of the local foodbanks in the area were destroyed or under water. So with our COO, Keith Thode, we drove from Dallas to Houston picking up every gas can we could along the way, filling the trunk with gas. We met then volunteer, now VP of Delivery, Michael Ross, along with other volunteers in Houston where we picked up more water and supplies. Equipped with two laptops, a GPS and a wireless card, we headed for New Orleans.

Within a day, we had helped our partners in securing empty warehouse facilities (old retail stores and an empty church). They were splicing wires and hooking up electricity to make the warehouses ready to receive the semi tractor trailers coming in from across the country with supplies for Alexandria and New Iberia, Louisiana, and then they were off to Mississippi to repeat the same. So many good people working around-the-clock to get supplies in, breaking through the red tape, with a virtual team of volunteers and staff around the U.S. helping us load data, deliver training materials and map out the nearest resources via Internet and cell phones.

At each location, we literally helped our partners stand up emergency relief warehouses so the pallets of goods could be received and then quickly broken down into smaller parcels that the local relief workers could transport into the disaster area. We trained volunteers on the spot on how use the warehouse technology, to receive and deliver goods, so the turnaround could be as quick as possible. The flow of relief from these agencies was working. But sadly, we remember, too, that this grassroots response was not enough, and we made a pledge to help fix this.

Today, five years later, we've taken the arduous lessons learned during Katrina & Rita. We are working with local, State & Federal governments to create a network of relief programs that can work across State lines and even country boarders for when disaster threatens the lives of innocent people. We now have a network of thousands of charities, government officials and businesses all connected online. FEMA is now connected to and a leading participant in this network. And when Hurricanes Gustav and Ike threatened the region again during the U.S. presidential election of 2008, both Democrats and Republicans pointed the public to this network as an example of our new collective state of preparedness. We were ready.

What emerged is a movement of charities, business leaders and governments leveraging these tools to enhance and accelerate their response capabilities. We CAN help with what we have in our abundance. We've worked with the relief community to listen to their needs and find ways to help empower them to work with the public and the unsolicited donations that came from people wanting to help. Often it takes just a few small steps to link up the efforts and intentions of so many. We know the Gulf region is much better prepared today because of the work of so many who came to the table and worked together to ensure a disaster of this magnitude never happens again. We thank our partners in the relief community, government and corporate sector for that effort, which has not been easy. We thank the people of the Gulf for their undying spirit to survive and rebuild and to teach us all this great lesson.

North Carolina Preparing for Hurricane Earl

The State of North Carolina is bracing for Hurricane Earl to make landfall sometime Friday morning as a category 3. The State of North Carolina is prepared on a number of levels, but one in particular is standing ready should there be widespread damage. The State maintains their National Donations Management Network portal, powered by Aidmatrix, that is used heavily during disasters to capture unsolicited in-kind donations. The State then takes on the duty of connecting those donation offers with the State's VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) members who have access to this system to post their needs and pull donation offers.

View North Carolina's portal

Hurricanes Fiona and Gaston are waiting directly behind it. Updates will be posted as they become available.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Aidmatrix Delivery Team Innovation Project #1

Help our partners and customers use our solutions with little to no advanced training. This is a key to success as many users of our solutions are volunteers or people engaged just in disaster activities and use the system for just minutes or days.

GenX Controls Rock:
Starting this year, the delivery team at Aidmatrix has taken up “innovation projects” as a part of enhancing their work experience. The goal is to work on innovations which can also benefit Aidmatrix, long-term. As a part of this exercise, I enhanced some of the features of GenX Controls.

GenX is a term used within the delivery circles, which is basically a cooler term for flex fields (dynamic controls). GenX is a step up from ZIM controls which were flex fields as well, but ZIM was more of an addition to the page rather than the page being entirely created by GenX controls.

GenX has the ability to populate the controls on a page which are configured in the database. Since the Aidmatrix In-kind Application is a multi-tenant application, each of the portals can now have a customizable “Enter Donation” or “Enter Needs” page. The pages can also be customized based on the categories that the user selects.

This ability to populate controls into pages at runtime is a very powerful feature. This gives users the ability to capture information that is unique and critical to their organization. The user is able to specify the quantity and type of flex fields that they need.

Innovation / New Features:
The two new features added to flex fields are:

TextBox Balloon Help(HoverMenuExtender): This control will provide help information regarding the info that is being requested in the textbox on a donation/need page.

Watermark TextBox: The typical purpose of a watermark is to provide more information to the user about the TextBox itself without cluttering up the rest of the page. When a watermarked TextBox is empty, it displays a message to the user with a custom CSS style. Once the user has typed some text into the TextBox, the watermarked appearance goes away.

– In the end, users that come to Aidmatrix in a disaster situation – or those with limited computer experience, can be guided by the GenX controls to master the application quickly and get to the business of moving humanitarian aid to those in need.

Michael Ross, VP - Delivery &
Manish Misri, Solution Architect