The three-headed hydra has a Pandemic Recovery Plan. We propose tech-empowered Plan B.
We all watched a global pandemic unfold using all forms of technology that were pure science fiction only decades ago. The blog you’re currently reading wouldn’t exist without modern technology, so yes, we embrace it as a friend. Allow me to explain.
The three-headed hydra of apathy, envy and fear loves the newest technology and is delivering his “Pandemic Recovery Plan” to your mobile devices. The hydra, a power broker in government and mass media, hopes you will love the Plan. And it’s under twenty words.
“Trust us. Everything’s going to be fine. HBO has an amazing new show to binge watch. Great stuff ahead.”
If you would prefer another path, read on.
New Mexico’s entire 100% Community initiative that’s designed to ensure that all residents have access to the ten vital services for surviving and thriving, is only possible because of the power of modern technology. We are grateful for that.
But what impact does technology have on capacity to address a public health challenge coupled with economic disruption? Amazon’s highly-efficient model shows that it is possible to deliver vital resources rapidly. The ubiquity and power of smart phones means we can share vital information across town and the planet instantaneously. Online conferencing technology allows us to offer virtual trainings from the comfort of our homes as well as check in the most vulnerable members of remote communities, providing advice and services without a three hour drive. And, rolling out solutions inspired by TripAdvisor’s review model means we can identify and rate the quality and accessibility of vital services like a health clinic or food bank and work to fix those with the lowest rankings.
The 100% Community initiative is a continuous experiment exploring how we use technology to launch and maintain a movement to ensure the health, safety and resilience of all residents, county by county.
Evolving technologies can provide to community change agents incredible power if local stakeholders are ready to take advantage of new software and the way it reorganizes public sector and private sector work. Here is a list of how we are using that technology for the 100% Community initiative being piloted in the New Mexico counties of San Miguel, Doña Ana, Socorro and Rio Arriba.
Click. Inspire. Solve.
Thanks to Amazon’s self-publishing tools and distribution network, we were able to publish the 100% Community book series, including textbooks for courses, online and in print with lightning speed.
Thanks to online collaboration software, we were able to combine the talents of individuals across the country (and in some cases, the world) in real time to create additional resources, check facts and brainstorm innovative solutions.
Thanks to email and newsletter management software providers, we were able to create and send weekly messages to state lawmakers and other stakeholders. One was a state senator who became our co-sponsor (with a state representative) of a senate bill to fund the organization that sponsors the 100% Community initiative.
Thanks to Facebook advertising, a city councilor in Las Cruces, NM took notice of our book, ordered and read it, becoming a leader in piloting some of its key policies and organizing ten action teams focused on ensuring surviving and thriving services.
Online radio streaming and podcasting allowed our radio show to be sent to state lawmakers and stakeholders who became champions of our mission.
Online learning management systems allowed us to create the 100% Community course to educate and empower community members everywhere, with links to effective innovations and problem solving strategies.
Thanks to collaborative databases and analysis software, we are able to track all our work in the public sector and use our 100% Community survey to identify what percentage of our county residents need resources (our ten “surviving” and “thriving” services), collecting data on why they are blocked from currently accessing support. We can also use the software to track our innovations and measure to what degree they are making the vital ten sectors more accessible and of higher quality.
We use mapping software to take that data and visualize local services, gaps in services, progress toward solutions and alignment of all county stakeholder’s work.
We use widely available software to show the future in the form of innovation prototypes and create mini-documentaries and animated stories to demonstrate that if we do A (for example, invest in a school-based health clinic) we get B (more students, family members, and school staff having access to vital medical services).
We use all our devices to take an inspiring idea (how to create a local system for ensuring students and the elderly get lunches), and go viral with it (friends telling friends tell friends x 1000), share our vision, to be transparent with our goals and activities and proposed outcomes, and gather support for our mission.
Tech, human ingenuity and results
At first glance we see technology as a key component of our work. What you don’t see are the literal years it took to write books, design courses, present at forums (driving four hours to share our story), attend government committee meetings, and engage with countless people to inspire them to help the books and our ideas go viral.
Clearly, the entire process of ensuring a county’s surviving and thriving services, cannot be packaged neatly into one app but how about an app to help organize community mobilizers and services across a county, neighborhood by neighborhood? Would that move the meter? (Ask San Miguel County folks about their new online directory of vital services, noting any changes in services due to the pandemic, developed within weeks.)
One question we ponder often: how can we engage our mobile device-carrying, tech-comfortable residents in our movement to strengthen health and safety systems? We know we can use technology to assist with creating a reality where local communities can ensure that everyone is okay. This is the goal of the 100% Community initiative.
We do know that humans already spend hours (totaling up, we might say “years”) staring at screens, clicking buttons that indicate support or dislike of something or someone, and self-producing vanity projects (podcasts, YouTube videos, etc). Perhaps they would do the same to locate, engage with and rate local resources in the ten thriving and surviving services.
Amid a population glued to their mobile devices, we can use that same obsession to help us keep track of how bad things are for our neighbors — across the street or across town. We can see if trends in maltreatment and all forms of social adversity are rising or falling, then coordinate our solutions accordingly.
Tech’s power and the plan of action
The private sector’s successes are most often driven by taking advantage of the latest technology wave. The public sector, twenty years after mobile phones became affordable to the masses, is still catching up. It might surprise readers to discover how much work in government and nonprofits still requires paper, pens and (until the pandemic) people to drive hours for meetings when online conferencing is free and widely accessible.
Remember, 100% Community is two initiatives in one — with technology vital at both the state level and the county level. On the state level, we must collaborate with state lawmakers and state cabinet secretaries to improve all systems of health, safety, education and economic development. And our county focus means that we treat each county like a sovereign country, with its own systems of care, safety and learning. The real work is local. And we have a plan of action for you to consider.
Don’t forget. The three-headed hydra of apathy, envy and fear has a plan for you, too.
Please excuse any typos as I construct an article at 3am on only one cup of Joe. These stories are mine and mine alone. I do not represent any organization here. If one of my illustrations looks like a real human or hydra, that’s total coincidence. Words and images ©Dominic Cappello but share with everyone you know. Any questions? The mission awaits: www.tenvitalservices.org