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APPy to help: Polish town uses mobile tech to support isolated

By Aurora Velez
APPy to help: Polish town uses mobile tech to support isolated
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Smart Regions explores how a specially adapted mobile application is helping the most vulnerable members of a Polish community receive vital support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since April, everyone in Poland has been ordered to wear a mask when out in a public place. But what does someone do if they cannot leave home easily to get one?

A new smartphone app - adapted for the current coronavirus crisis - seeks to provide the answer. With just a few simple clicks, users can order a mask or other essential items to be delivered to their door.

“This support is really important, especially for elderly people. First of all, they are afraid to go out and walk in the street, because of the general feeling of panic. They’re also afraid of getting infected.”
Irena Szperkowska

The Good Support Programme

The app is part of a project called The Good Support Programme (TGSP). Almost €1.9 million of its €2.2 million budget is financed through the European Union's Cohesion Policy. In Poland’s West Pomerania Province, around 300 elderly people, with support from the same number of carers and around 100 volunteers, are using the app. The budget for the app was around €120,000 and 85% of the money came from EU funds.

Aimed at responding to the needs of the most vulnerable, the programme relies on the support of carers, families and neighbours.

In the town of Wałcz, everything is being coordinated from the Town Hall during the crisis. Before COVID-19, the project usually dealt with simple administrative demands - such as appointments to see doctors or physiotherapists, but with its real-time geolocation, the technology has been adapted for urgent requests during the pandemic.

"Thanks to the programme, I have an overview of all the volunteers I work with and a database of all the people in need of home help. The platform is really easy to set up, I just have to type the names of the people we’re looking after, see who’s taking care of them, and assign tasks,” says TGSP Coordinator, Monika Turowska.

Masks in hot demand

Right now, masks are one of the biggest requests from those using the app. Produced locally in Wałcz, volunteers like Maciej help pack and distribute them along with other key essentials.

“Through the mobile app, I can receive a message from an old person, or someone living alone who needs help. Based on that, we can deliver food, take the dog for a walk, put the rubbish out, or even just have a chat on the phone.”
Maciej Markowski
Founder, 10TKA

The mobile application has been made free of charge throughout the pandemic. While Irena is using it today in Poland, the app is also being developed in English and Spanish, and should soon - according to The Good Support Programme - be available in other countries.