All-women team develops Guyana’s first ever crisis management web and mobile app

News > The Caribbean

By STEM Caribbean | Posted on April 17, 2020

International Day of Girls in ICT is right around the corner. To celebrate this day, a group of women created HELPGuyana, Guyana’s first-ever crisis management web and mobile app. This platform will enhance lives and support citizens across Guyana during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The group of women behind this groundbreaking initiative was determined to create a social good app that could benefit vulnerable groups in Guyana.

Screenshot of the HELPGuyana web app

Karen Abrams, STEMGuyana Director, and Dr. Melissa Ifill, a lecturer at the University of Guyana, came up with the concept for HELPGuyana. This concept was then strengthened by members of STEMGuyana, the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT), and the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly-Guyana (IDPADA-G).

The members of the all-women team bring much-needed skills to this project.  For example, Karen Abrams has multiple years of experience in the crisis management and disaster recovery space, which she gained during her time in Corporate America, where she served as Director of Risk Management for Earthlink Networks in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition, Coily.us creator and STEMGuyana co-founder, Asha Christian, worked on the program code for the app.

The current version of the app provides a range of services and opportunities for citizens in Guyana.  Individuals can sell and donate masks or share relevant information. Small businesses can advertise their goods and services to potentially thousands of users on the app. Also, delivery services can register with the app, and individuals can sign up to volunteer for registered agencies.

Another feature of the HELPGuyana app is users can submit an anonymous report of domestic violence, fraud, and abuse. Earlier this week, a report on the increasing risk of family violence during the COVID-19 pandemic was published on the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health’s website. According to this report, the risk for family violence around the world is likely to dramatically increase due to current necessary actions to slow the spread of COVID-19, such as social-distancing, sheltering in-place, restricted travel, and the closures of essential community foundations.

The report also noted that countries around the world are already indicating a significant increase in the number of reported cases of domestic violence. The HELPGuyana app is, therefore, a timely project for the vulnerable citizens in Guyana.

“What we determined is that during every major crisis in Guyana, it is our vulnerable citizens who suffer most, and we wanted to use technology to identify these persons and to create a way to get them help in an organised and reoccurring manner,” Karen Abrams expressed.

The all-women team noted that over 30,000 vulnerable households in Guyana would need help during a crisis. HELPGuyana can connect these Guyanese citizens in need with those in Guyana and abroad who are willing to assist.

‘It is important that we understand the scale and forms of vulnerabilities that exist in various communities – whether urban, rural, or interior – and use technology to address same. Ultimately this app will place the needs of people, as they define them, at the centre of our planning and giving,’ expressed Dr. Melissa Ifill.

GTT, IDPADA-G, and the Anira Foundation are sponsors of the HELPGuyana app. In addition, STEMGuyana has contacted many other public and private agencies for support and will announce those agreements at a later date.

The IDPADA-G expressed that the HELPGuyana app project is a timely opportunity.

“IDPADA-G sees this application as an excellent opportunity to make our community work more sustainable under the current circumstances and even post the COVID19 pandemic, therefore we are pleased to be a sponsor. It could not have come at a better time since vulnerable communities are desperately seeking assistance for everyday needs.”

The HELPGuyana app is expected to be available for Android devices next week and for Apple devices the following week. The app will still be available in web format for citizens who have insufficient memory on their mobile devices.  It can be accessed via http://helpguyana.com.



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