IMC uses its IBM Analytics platform to accelerate its reporting and planning processes, enabling it to deploy emergency responders faster and enhance the effectiveness of its disaster relief services.
International Medical Corps (IMC) (link resides outside of ibm.com) wanted to provide faster care to disaster victims, but a lack of actionable information on emerging situations made it difficult to allocate resources efficiently.
By replacing multiple separate reporting systems with a single, centralized IBM Analytics solution, IMC ensures doctors and coordinators have access to the information they need when they need it.
For first responders such as International Medical Corps (IMC), fast deployment can make the difference between life and death. On average, the acute phase of a disaster lasts just 72 hours, and it is during this window that the most lives can be saved. To shorten its response times, IMC needs accurate, real-time insight into emerging disaster situations—and its own finances—to channel appropriate resources to the disaster and keep personnel on the ground informed.
Ali Arshad, Manager of Data Analytics at International Medical Corps, takes up the story: “At IMC, we collect a wide variety of data to drive effective decision-making, and we are always looking for ways to cut down our response times. The challenge we faced wasn’t access to raw data—it was converting that data into actionable insights. Our aim was to spend less time crunching the numbers, and more time acting on the results of our analyses.”
In the past, IMC personnel recorded data on emerging situations and available resources in multiple separate spreadsheets, which the organization’s analysts would then manually consolidate—a time-consuming process.
Arshad continues: “Our previous approach to reporting relied heavily on spreadsheets, which made it extremely difficult to extract the information we need to make an impact during those all-important first 72 hours. We decided to implement a single, robust platform that could centralize our reporting and analysis and provide reliable information.”
IMC decided to transform its approach to business intelligence with a centralized reporting platform, driven by IBM Analytics solutions.
To help determine its available resources, IMC uses IBM® Cognos® TM1® to perform advanced financial forecasting based on patterns in donations and awards from previous years. And using IBM SPSS® Statistics, the organization can apply advanced predictive models to determine the places where its resources will do the most good.
“Thanks to our IBM Analytics solution, all our data is accessible via one central point,” says Arshad. “Because we now enter our data into a single portal, we’ve eliminated the need to consolidate spreadsheets—a significant time-saving. Better still, we present data in user-friendly dashboards, which cuts our time to insight even further.”
Reducing the need for manual processing not only improves the accuracy of the data, it means that the organization can invest more time in analysis during the crucial early stages of a disaster—the results of which can be delivered to doctors working in the most remote or isolated of locations.
Arshad explains: “Our doctors are frequently working in areas where there is no reliable internet access, so it was crucial to enable first responders to access vital data offline. Thanks to the IBM solution, we can offer our first-responders access to information on their tablets—even in areas without internet access—and perform triage where it is needed most.”
Thanks to its centralized data management platform, IMC is able to provide better care to victims of disasters, with automated processes and easier analysis shortening response times.
“The IBM solution helps us respond to patients and reach disaster areas faster,” says Arshad. “With vital information consolidated into dashboards, we have been able to reduce the number of separate operational reports we need to create, which used to take a lot of time to maintain. We can now spend that time turning the data into actionable insights.”
IMC has been able to use the IBM solution to build customized dashboards for specific disasters, such as the Ebola outbreak, as Arshad notes: “We created a dashboard for the Ebola crisis so that we could view up-to-date information coming from the field. As soon as we received reports from various sources we consolidated the data into the dashboard and made it available for both online and offline users.”
Today, IMC is gaining a clearer view of its finances and resources. Arshad adds: “We can now see all our donations and grants in real-time—helping us to channel them to the right areas without delay. Better visibility of our resources is also important in non-emergency settings. In these cases, our focus is on development: for example, training local communities to become their own first responders in the event of future disasters, and empowering them to move from relief to self-reliance.”
Looking to the future, IMC plans to build on the success of its IBM reporting solutions. Arshad concludes: “We are currently building a command center that combines a number of our key dashboards, and we are confident that the platform will enable us to deliver even higher-quality information to our people on the ground more rapidly than ever. Faster decisions mean faster deployments—and that can make the difference between life and death for people affected by disasters.”
International Medical Corps (IMC) (link resides outside of ibm.com) is a global humanitarian nonprofit organization founded in 1984 by volunteer doctors and nurses. The organization provides disaster relief in addition to healthcare and training, with the goal of creating self-reliant medical services in disaster-prone areas.
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Produced in the United States of America, May 2016.
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