30 October, 2021

Organizers provide emergency water faster with chatbots and drive-throughs

icon Chatbots,emergency,relief
Community organizers expedite relief supplies with McDonalds like drive-throughs.

Organizers provide emergency water supplies to Benton Harbor (MI) residents in lead contaminated water emergency.

Community organizers and volunteers help distribute supplies at the Abundant Life Church as resident line up get cases of water. How can cases of water be provided quickly while also collecting details from people getting water? How can this be done so the process is easy to understand and follow?

This blog explains how Black Voters Matter and DemLabs deployed a relief supply solution in a few hours for the Abundant Life Church. The system uses QR Codes and chatbots so volunteers can provide emergency supplies faster with better record keeping. It also explains how other community groups use chatbots to help find food banks, get free diapers and conduct surveys.

Improve relief efforts with chatbots

The system is similar to how orders are placed at a McDonald's drive-through before picking up your order.

  • Drivers scan QR codes on signs near the church and text answers to a short survey.
  • The information they provide is saved and immediately sent to workers providing cases of water.
  • Volunteers save time by not have to collect information individually before providing relief.
  • Volunteers just note how many cases of water were provided to each resident.
Use QR Codes to streamline order delivery and collecting information.

Conduct surveys by text

Streamline relief supply distribution with QR Codes and chatbots.
Streamline delivery of relief supplies with QR Codes and chatbots.

Lead contaminated water supply

"Benton Harbor is roughly 85% Black. It is home to nearly 10,000 people. Earlier this month, state officials recommended residents use bottled water instead of tap water for activities including cooking, drinking and brushing teeth, an effort officials said was a part of "a longer-term effort to eliminate exceeding federal lead standards, educate the community on the effects of lead in drinking water, remove lead service lines and increase confidence in filtered water from the tap."

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called on the Republican-led legislature to provide an additional $11.4 million to replace the city's pipes, according to a news release from her office.The governor previously committed to replacing 100% of lead pipes in the city within 18 months after residents said the city's water supply has had unsafe levels of lead for years." - CNN

Serving the community

Community leaders including Marletta Seats, Duane Seats and Wilson Chandler along with volunteers with the Abundant Life Church are distributing water for the citizens in Benton Harbor. Other groups helping in the effort include Abundant Life Evolved Michigan Republican Party GOP Michigan Freedom Fund Citizens for Traditional Values Michigan Family Forum Berrien County Michigan - Government Berrien County Health Department Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety.

Volunteers deliver water to residents of Benton Harbor in response to cases of lead contamination of water supply.

What is a chatbot?

Chatbots are programs that accept incoming requests (voice, email or text); ask questions and then take some action. In this case, the chatbot responds to someone texting 'water' to 202-858-0303 or scanning the QR Code. It collects information such as name and address and directs the individual to proceed and pick up their cases of water. The information collected is provided to volunteers so they do not have to spend time collecting information from drivers themselves. This can saves about 5 minutes per customer and reduces the time people have to wait in line to get water.

DemLabs designed this chatbot in about two hours using the Twilio platform. Chatbots are affordable. This project was pro bono, but a chatbot like this emergency supply delivery chatbot costs about $100 to set up and 5 cents per survey completed. Organizers save the opt-in information collected is for community service and other follow-up.

Make it easier for people to get the information they need and complete surveys with QR codes. Share them on social media, print on flyers or put on billboards. Scanning a QR Code launches an actions like making a phone call, going to a website or sending a text message.

QR Codes

Make it easier for people to get the information they need and complete surveys with QR codes. Share them on social media, print on flyers or put on billboards. Scanning a QR Code launches an actions like making a phone call, going to a website or sending a text message. Create QR Codes with this free app.

Learn more about chatbots

TakeAway: Use affordable technology such as QR Codes and chatbots to help more people in less time and build contact lists at the same time.


Image credit: McDonalds

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