Salvation Army helps Haiti using UPS tracking technology

The Salvation Army has adopted barcode tracking technology, donated by UPS, to streamline the distribution of food and medical supplies in Haiti.

The barcode technology replaces the handwritten paper index cards that the Salvation Army was using to allocate relief supplies to the people suffering from the effects of a massive earthquake in the country last month.

UPS adapted its Trackpad technology, which UPS customers use to track packages from loading docks to distribution offices for delivery, for disaster relief supply distribution.

Cardinal Tracking, UPS’s technology provider, supplied the barcode cards and donated labour and equipment for the project. The system includes 4,000 laminated cards, two handheld scanners and a laptop.

The laminated cards hold unique barcodes that are linked to each family and their needs, which the Salvation Army can track using the scanners.

Damaris Frick, manager of the Salvation Army’s camp in Haiti capital, Port-au-Prince, said: "The technology will improve the speed of the distribution, helping us to keep the process as orderly as possible.

"It currently takes a team of 40 people to sweep through the camp to accomplish a replacement of damaged cards. That problem will be completely eliminated with this system. We will no longer need to manually input distribution data, which will also speed up and increase the accuracy of our reporting process to other NGOs and donors."

The system may also help to reduce theft or fraud.

Frick added that the Salvation Army will be able to use the technology to track the families and their future needs as they move from current temporary camps to more permanent shelter.

The organisation also plans to use the system to help distribute hygiene kits and tarps to prepare for the upcoming wet season, and is considering using the system at other relief sites.

Previously, UPS configured the Trackpad technology for tracking lost pets following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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