Earlier this year, TimeXtender was working with Lorie Steiner, Associate Editor of Business View, on an article about applying mindfulness to business when Hurricane Irma started to gain strength in the Atlantic. Forming in late August, Irma quickly became the strongest hurricane observed in the Atlantic since 2005 and, as it made landfall across the Caribbean and Florida, it caused widespread devastation.

In its wake, we started to discuss an article about the mental tools needed to stay efficient and optimistic during such times of need, yet events once again overtook us. The deadly Hurricane Maria struck just two weeks later, rampaging through areas of the Caribbean already torn apart by Irma.

Witnessing such widespread devastation and loss of life, we paused to consider whether now was an appropriate time to be writing about mindfulness and mental tools.

With millions of Puerto Ricans struggling to survive in a country with no functioning power, sanitation or communication systems, would now be the right and proper time to discuss business practices?

As we discovered, yes it would be. For in such dire situations, every minute counts. A day, an hour, even a second that can be used more efficiently to help others might be the difference between life and death.

When technology goes hand-in-hand with data, mind and heart

It may seem counter-intuitive to talk about technology in relation to Puerto Rico – a country that has few functioning networks. Yet it’s precisely because the supply chain has been so badly broken that technology can make such a difference, by managing available data in a clear, comprehensive way in order to assess the situation as a whole.

When technology goes hand-in-hand with data, mind and heart, things much larger than ourselves can happen and together, we can make a difference. In the hands of Direct Relief, an amazing and hardworking non-profit humanitarian aid organization, TimeXtender’s software has contributed to managing the big data sets needed to get a clearer picture of a chaotic situation.

By assessing what was urgently needed in each location in the immediate wake of the hurricane, scarce air transport could be used to deliver bundles for individual hospitals or communities.

Since these had been pre-packed, each bundle could be swiftly off-loaded and transported without the added complication of sorted in a warehouse then repacked in-country. Sealed into durable, waterproof orange tubs, each delivery was sure to service the journey so that it could serve specific needs. Part of this successful delivery was down to data management.

In times of crisis, there’s only enough time and transport available to send what’s urgently needed, yet to anyone living though such a nightmare, everything appears to be a priority. By managing all available information, even when it’s from many different sources and when some of it may be incomplete, technology allows the right things to go to the right people in the most efficient way.

At the start of November, Business View Caribbean spoke with Direct Relief CEO Thomas Tighe about the ongoing challenges of managing relief to Puerto Rico, a country stripped of power, sanitation and basic infrastructure. Read about the wonderful efforts of Direct Relief and see how technology has been integral to their in-country campaign, improving a situation where time really matters…

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