Jason Friesen ’12MSPH and Treck Medics Among Nonprofits Using Text Messaging to Mobilize Idle Assets for Good

By Cat Johnson,  August 25, 2016

Sharing economy apps help make idle assets like cars and homes available to those who need them. Long before such apps existed, nonprofits put idle resources of all kinds to work helping others in what one could call the original sharing economy.

Now Twilio is helping nonprofits up their sharing game. Twilio’s cloud communication platform enables software developers to easily add text messaging (SMS), voice, and video communication to web and mobile apps. Through their social good initiative, they help nonprofit organizations bring together those in need with those who can help using the latest communication technology.

This is part of Twilio’s pledge to give away a billion messages for good. Through their work with nonprofits, Twilio has learned that text messaging is often the fastest, most effective way to coordinate help, and sometimes  it’s the psychologically safest way for those in need to reach out. Here are five nonprofits using Twilio’s text messaging to mobilize idle assets for good.

1. Trek Medics


Trek Medics is an emergency medical system that trains volunteer first responders, offers a low-cost emergency dispatch system, and much more. It’s used in countries where 911 doesn’t exist. Trek Medics combines Twilio SMSwith its emergency dispatching software, Beacon, to connect volunteers to accident sites by enabling people to alert local paramedics of emergencies via text. Trek Medics is able to get first-responders to accident victims within 10 minutes.

The organization has used Twilio since its inception. It’s now used in the Dominican Republic and Tanzania. It has allowed Trek Medics to create live testing environments in the U.S. and to test and demo the software in at least 10 other countries.

Founder and executive director Jason Friesen relays a recent success from the Dominican Republic when a mother and her two year-old baby were at a beach. The mother turned her back on the child for a second and when she turned around again, her baby was drowning.

“When they dragged the baby out of the water, the five year-old son of one of our volunteers saw what was going on and knew what to do,” says Friesen. “He found an adult and told them to call the fire department. The dispatcher at the fire department received the call, took the information and sent out a text message through Twilio to all our responders through our Beacon software.” [Rest of Story]

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