Qualcomm™ Wireless Reach®: Addressing Local Communities' COVID-19 Needs

Qualcomm™ Wireless Reach®: Addressing Local Communities' COVID-19 Needs

Thursday, October 29, 2020 - 9:00am

CONTENT: Article

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people’s lives in ways that were unimaginable less than one year ago. Along with the challenges have come great opportunities for innovative, sustainable solutions that use advanced mobile technologies to improve people’s lives.

Qualcomm Wireless Reach is a strategic corporate responsibility initiative to bring advanced wireless technology to underserved communities globally. We collaborate with many different stakeholders to create localized solutions that use mobile technology to foster entrepreneurship, enhance the delivery of health care, enrich teaching and learning, aid in public safety and improve the state of the environment. To date, Wireless Reach has implemented 126 projects, impacting over 20 million people across 47 countries.

Here is a look at how some of our projects were able to quickly pivot to address the new needs and challenges of local communities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hapinoy Mobile Money Hubs, Philippines

In the Philippines, sari-sari stores are the last-mile supply points for their communities. They function as a neighborhood’s shared pantry, carrying household needs in small, daily doses. Many of these shops are owned by women microentrepreneurs.

When the Philippines locked down due to the spread of COVID-19, sari-sari store owners (along with almost all other businesses) closed their doors. The supply chains for grocery items were disrupted, making restocking difficult. Sari Sari store owners (women micro-entrepreneurs) faced dwindling capital and finance as there was no purchasing power at the community level as people lost their jobs en masse.

Normally, the Wireless Reach-supported Hapinoy Mobile Money Hubs program provides participating micro-entrepreneurs with in-person training, linkage to capital, business opportunities, technology enablement and community-building to help them grow their businesses. When COVID-19 hit, the program pivoted toward an all-digital approach for recruitment, training, on-boarding, and ongoing engagement. The new approach enabled Hapinoy to continue supporting the sari-sari store owners so that they could navigate and adapt to the new realities brought about by the pandemic.

The program developed educational content to support store owners to operate with better safety protocols, increase their economic resilience and, through a combination of their Facebook Chatbots and BizMo mobile app, continue to access microfinancing opportunities and fast-moving consumer goods organizations from the safety of their homes. Store owners also use social media to reach more customers by posting their goods and services on social media platforms, conduct transactions through mobile wallets, and generate additional income through digital bills payment and online payment services.

KidzAlive Mobilized, South Africa

The KidzAlive Mobilized program uses mobile broadband technologies to support healthcare workers and empower HIV-exposed and -infected children and adolescents, and their primary caregivers, to overcome barriers that prevent children from receiving HIV testing and treatment, and to set them on the path to a healthy future.

Normally, children and their caregivers visit the local health clinic to receive HIV testing, counseling and treatment. But people are reluctant to travel right now. If they do visit the clinic, it is typically just to pick up their medication.

To help ensure that children who are HIV-negative stay negative, that those who are HIV-positive are supported to lead healthy lives — and that they all know how to stay safe from COVID-19 and help slow the spread — the program pivoted.

Typically providing face-to-face training, mentorship, and technical support on the Talk Tool App for frontline workers, the program quickly adapted to country-wide travel restrictions by providing training and mentorship online.

The organization also created and launched COVID-19 resources by adapting their already existing HIV, Wellness and Chronic Illness packages endorsed by the South African National Department of Health to help children receive child-friendly and age-appropriate support and prevention strategies during the pandemic. The resources, which include a job aid for frontline workers and take-home coloring book and crayons distributed to 1,000 children to help educate them on coronavirus and healthy living strategies, follow a cast of well-known cartoon characters (and introduce Rona Corona). The job aid and coloring book were also released via social media, reaching over 2,000 people, as a rapid response at the beginning stages of the nationwide lockdown.

Qualcomm 21st Century Classroom, China

In January 2020, as COVID-19 spread in China, schools closed, and remote learning became the new normal. The Qualcomm 21st Century Classroom program, already deployed in poverty-stricken areas of China to demonstrate how broadband Internet connectivity and advanced mobile tools can help modernize education on campus, pivoted to ensure continuity of learning from home.

Two middle schools in Tongjiang County that joined the program prior to COVID-19 were already equipped with broadband capacity and an on-campus wireless network. Every classroom was furnished with an electronic smartboard and broadband-enabled tablets and phones for in-classroom teaching and learning. Teachers use the tools to build curriculum, access digital platforms, work with digital content and leverage advances in individualized learning to improve student and teaching outcomes.

When schools closed, some teachers in the above-mentioned schools continued to go into their classrooms to record their lessons using the electronic smartboards. Many students lacked the tools to be able to learn from home. The Qualcomm 21st Century Classroom program provided broadband-enabled devices to 150 teachers and more than 400 students across Tongjiang County to ensure continuity of teaching and learning from home.

Now, teachers can prepare their lessons anytime, anywhere. Students that have the equipment can continue to learn from home. More than 13,000 students ages 7 to 15 and 1,000 teachers have benefited from this program.

ATMAGO, Indonesia

In Indonesia, the AtmaGo mobile app connects and empowers local communities to share emergency warnings, take action to reduce their risk and build social cohesion to improve their resilience. Developed by AtmaConnect with support from Wireless Reach, the platform has been enhanced to include news and information to help neighborhoods address COVID-19.

AtmaGo crowdsources real-time, user-generated, disaster-related information; geographically organizes the content; and then delivers the information to users’ mobile phones via Android app or mobile-optimized website.

The app has been enhanced to serve as a platform for Indonesian communities to share information and help each other during the pandemic. Recognizing the urgent need to stay connected, the app now has a dedicated page with information specific to COVID-19, including regional hotline phone numbers for connecting users to government-authorized institutions and counselling.

There is also a new AtmaGo microsite dedicated to COVID-19. The microsite features news and updates, information for helping prevent the spread, local resources, a chat counseling feature for psychological support and a discussion board

The platform is being used to organize community efforts, such as making and distributing masks, creating handwashing stations, and educating neighbors on slowing the spread. Posts on the discussion board address important topics, such as prevention, treatment, aid, policy, news, and impact. As of July 2, 2020, there have been 2,279 posts on COVID-19 related issues from AtmaGo users, garnering 292,312 views and further amplified via AtmaGo social media.

Qualcomm Wireless Reach brings advanced wireless technologies to underserved communities globally and works to enrich people’s lives through programs that strengthen economic and social development. Through our initiative, we aim to bring advanced wireless technologies to underserved communities globally and continue to demonstrate our long-lasting commitment to lifting local and global communities and show how access to technology can catalyze positive social impact.