REMA, Inc., is a local, minority-owned business in Puerto Rico focused on developing technological clearinghouses of profiles of community needs directed to facilitate decision-making in sharing resources.
They have developed Sociants.com, a digital platform that matches the social needs of underprivileged individuals, those in distressed situations, or those living in remote areas with community support and service providers. Sociants integrates mapping technology to identify individuals in need and lists available community providers and their respective resources by integrating map visualization that uses datasets from multiple sources.
REMA will partner with community organizations, the local government, and private and civil society actors to both conduct a needs assessment of 3,500 households in Vieques and list the resources of service providers on the platform to be matched with needs. They will also register all organizations that provide services to Viequenses, at least eight to 10 non-profits.
To carry out the assessment, REMA will design the needs assessments survey in collaboration with community partners and will recruit field representatives from different sectors on the island who will assist with data collection. This recruitment process is coordinated with universities. The role of the field representatives will consist of population assessment which will be executed through a door-to-door approach, as well as at public events around Vieques. Assessment results will be collected and stored on the Sociants platform, which can filter data sets by proximity, urgency, and frequency of needs. This information will highlight resource gaps, empowering island residents to advocate for the resources and services they need, and equipping service providers and the local government with data to inform decision-making and improve service delivery. The platform will also provide a method for managing resource inventory, providing referrals between different organizations for case management purposes.
The expected result is to reveal information and shed light on the real social needs on the island of Vieques, share the data and findings of Vieques’ population needs, share resources among partners and improve its social and economic conditions leading to improving the quality of life. REMA will also make the data available to members of the CGI Action Network.
This project will be divided into five phases of implementation as follows:
Phase 1 consists of community organizations signing and registration on January 23rd, 2019.
Phase 2 consists of working together with the Vieques community leaders that have already partnered with Sociants for this project in order to develop a survey based on social determinants of health that will screen and map the exact needs of the population. The questions will address topics such as healthcare, transportation, youth apathy, communications and education among other relevant social determinants exclusive to the island. The survey design will be completed by February 2019.
Phase 3 consists of leveraging the Sociants matching tool to effectively match organizations and community providers that can offer the resources and help the surveyed residents require. Sociants will collaborate with Vieques residents, community leaders and organizations in the implementation of a community work plan. This phase will start on February 1st of 2019 and conclude on April 1st of 2019.
Phase 4 consists of studying, analyzing and reporting the acquired data for Vieques to identify the most frequent social determinants that affect the residents together with their most pressing needs. Sociants will share reports on data and findings with stakeholders and partners during this final stage. This phase will start on February 1st of 2019 and completion on July 31st of 2019. However, the process of reviewing assessment results is ongoing.
Vieques is a municipal island of Puerto Rico, located seven miles east off the main island. It is home to approximately 9,400 people. For decades, the island was home to the United States Marines and was used as a practice battleground for war maneuvers. Its military presence inhibited the island’s socio economic, infrastructure and social development. Upon the Navy’s departure, the island’s workforce lost its main source of demand for goods and services.
To this day, the island remains underdeveloped and isolated. These social determinants have produced an alarming incidence of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and many other health complications for the Vieques population. Further, on September 20, 2017 nature placed Vieques at the center of Hurricane Maria’s path, the most destructive natural phenomenon to hit Puerto Rico's archipelago in more than nine decades. Due to its geographic position, deteriorated infrastructure and poor levels of access to quality healthcare and education, Vieques is positioned at an alarming disadvantage in the Caribbean’s reconstruction efforts and its people are staring a humanitarian crisis in the eye.
As reported by the Department of Labor and Human Resources in December 2018, the unemployment rate in Vieques was 12.8%, a high figure compared to the island-wide unemployment rate of 8.3%. According to the U.S. Census, 36.8% of the population of Vieques lives below the poverty level. 44% of the island's population receive food assistance through the Nutrition Assistance Program (PAN).
Due to the detrimental living conditions and social adversities that the people of Vieques experience, it is important to gather data and create community profiles with updated information on their needs that will enable effective distribution of resources and reduce duplication of services.
REMA is seeking partnerships to help Sociants accelerate its mission. First, REMA requires additional financial investments to make their social service coordination platform accessible for all community providers. Capital is required to help Sociants maintain its technology, infrastructure, and a staff of programmers.
REMA would also benefit from media support to help Sociants reach broader markets and expand outside of the Caribbean; networking with organizations who would like to share resources and collaborate to advance equality; volunteers to serve as field representatives; and support from technology and communication companies that can provide internet access and equipment like tablets to capture data.
Rema LLC, through the Sociants platform, can collect and organize robust data on population health in different regions around the world; can provide visual details of individuals’ living conditions inside a vulnerable community; and can prevent shortages of basic need during events of extreme calamity and natural disasters. Platform data can be shared with any trusted humanitarian organization in order to enable the provision of resources based on the needs mapped by the platform.
Sociants' “Community Provider and Organization Search Engine” will be available for committed organizations that belong to the CGI Action Network.