The application that will assist welfare factors during emergencies

Cooperation between SCE, the Resilience Hub in Sderot and the Youth Welfare Department of the city, produced a system that enables concentrating information for welfare factors treating shock and anxiety victims, in the wake of security incidents

The volatile security situation that Israel’s citizens experience daily as well as the missile threat that has extended beyond the boundaries of the settlements surrounding Gaza, have led to a sharp increase in victims suffering from anxiety. To treat this increasing problem various cities have established Resilience Hubs, with the Sderot Resilience Hub being the most veteran, and having to contend with the most extensive number of threats in very short response times. The resilience hubs generally provide important initial treatment for a wide range of incidents that define anxiety victims as persons present in a traumatic event that posed a genuine threat to their physical or mental wellbeing.

In a project that resulted from cooperation between the College’s Beer Sheba campus, the Sderot Resilience Hub and the city’s welfare department, Oshri Abraham, a graduate of the software engineering department, presented an application for the reporting, summoning and management of information collected by the city’s welfare factors in real time. The initial connection was formed between these entities, having recognized the need for a system that would assemble all the treatment data on the city’s residents, a need that was identified by the State Comptroller in its report. The report specified an urgent need for a real time database to manage events in the field, report incidents in real time and present visual information illustrating the data on maps and graphs.

The application known as Shahar – sharing welfare resilience, allows the resilience hub, the welfare department, the neighbourhood emergency teams and the municipality centre to report, and update events active in the field in real time, to monitor and direct rescue teams to ongoing events and to produce reports saved in the system, to view a city map in real time and to issue critical graphs for decision makers and system managers.

“I began developing the application after having been made aware of the need by the college as part of my fourth-year final project”, says Oshri, age 26 from Beer Sheba, who shared his personal experience. “I immediately knew just how important the matter was and that I wanted to take on the challenge. During my military service, I was present at a terrorist attack and was a firsthand witness to the ramifications of shock and fear that accompany security incidents”.  The project was performed under the guidance of Dr. Hadas Hasidim, and began with an introductory meeting with the Resilience Hub and welfare staff, in order to learn more about the requirements and derivatives when played out in the field, and to learn what expectations the experienced professionals had from the application”.

“During emergencies there is not much time for preparations, the teams don their protective gear and identification marks with speed and go into the field”, says Hila Gonen, manager of the Sderot Resilience Hub. Over the years the teams arriving in the field had to document victim’s details in booklets, which made follow-up cumbersome. “We tried transitioning to online reporting using joint Google documents, but being non centralized and shared by so many factors made it even more cumbersome”. Another problem, said Hila, is reporting the treatment locations of victims nearby the incident site, as there are streets with similar names. “Sharing locations using an application that is centralized to a war-room desk visible to all the factors involved can save so much response time for the teams in real time”.

Avner Hai, a representative of the Sderot welfare department who participated in creating the application, describes how emergency situations and non-digital work hinder welfare factors “At times of emergency, the teams all leave for the incident locations to perform field work with anxiety victims, sometimes there is an overload of people, which may result in not everyone receiving the optimal treatment we want to provide. This overload also makes it difficult to transfer information between organizations causing duplications that delay or impair the treatment process. This necessity made us realize that we are missing a centralizing factor that would compile all the information efficiently and effectively, which would improve the entire process”.

A pilot of the application was conducted as part of an exercise conducted in Sderot with all types of users – the resilience administration, the welfare department, therapists, social workers and dispatchers. The conclusion of the pilot showed that concentrated management of the information and its accessibility in real time significantly assisted in taking important decisions for the welfare of residents and in providing effective and speedy treatment. The application’s ability to report the precise location proved to be effective for treatment time enabling the teams to show map sections of areas where welfare personnel were present. At first stage the application will be adapted for the Sderot Resilience Hub and Welfare Department, and in the future will be expanded for use by other authorities.

“As far as we are concerned this is very good news”, says Hila, “It’s the first time that we have cooperated with the college and we found them to be an amazingly attentive team. Hadas and Oshri invested a great deal pf time and took care to listen to all of our comments and to implement them quickly into all development phases”. Dr. Hadas Hasidim believes that cooperation between the academic world and genuine needs lead to applicable projects with extensive significance for both student and partnering entity. “Our challenge now is to complete what needs to be done so that we can be up and running soon and serve the resilience hub and the Sderot welfare department as well as other hubs”.