Ulula Community Driven Resilience System
One-line solution summary:
Mobile phones to strengthen global monitoring systems and communication channels to detect and respond to infectious disease emergencies.
Pitch your solution.
Mechanisms to monitor and detect infectious disease emergencies like COVID-19 rely on secondary data sources such as case reporting, laboratory results, outpatient visits, and deaths. Due to testing challenges, a majority of cases have gone unreported and unregistered, creating a distorted picture of the actual spread. Decision makers must rely on incomplete and late information, undermining prevention and opportunities for rapid response.
Ulula’s proposed innovation leverages mobile technology to scale a reporting channel to gather community health data through automated surveys and a feedback channel. Key decision makers can access near real-time insights on symptoms and high risk behaviours to better detect outbreaks and prevent crises by delivering information to target individuals to improve hygiene and behaviour change.
Scaled globally, the technology can be adapted to collect and analyze data on additional key indicators such as the wellbeing of healthcare supply chain workers to support global health security.
Film your elevator pitch.
What specific problem are you solving?
The proposed innovation has the potential to provide health care providers and policy makers with more accurate, real-time insights on the risk of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. The innovation can deliver health information to influence individual behaviours to prevent and mitigate outbreaks.
As demonstrated in South Korea, widespread testing is critical for early detection and to manage infection rates. However, widespread testing has yet to be achieved in many countries resulting in higher than reported rates of infection, impeding effective reopening plans.
While it is difficult to estimate the number of people affected, countries struggling to lower the rate of infection, achieve widespread testing and encourage hygiene behaviour, represent the scale of the problem the solution can solve. Other factors such as limited access to health care create barriers to testing, particularly in low and middle incomes countries further contribute to the challenge.
By promoting the adoption of better behavior, encouraging those who can to get tested, and measuring the potential spread, the solution can surface key indicators that contribute to ensuring better prediction and detection.
What is your solution?
Ulula can help slow and track the spread of an emerging outbreak by gathering ground-truthed data through mobile phones and improving individual behaviour and hygiene by digitally distributing regionally and organizationally relevant resources, alerts, and updates.
Available across several communication channels including SMS, IVR WhatsApp, web and app, Ulula’s multilingual chatbot can collect insights from stakeholders anywhere in the world. Stakeholders do not need to download an application and can participate without access to the internet using just a simple feature phone.
Data and analytics are visualized in real-time on interactive dashboards to help decision makers make informed decisions. Indicators can assess community access to testing facilities, adoption of health and safety practices such as social distancing and hand washing or symptom related insights such as dry cough, fever, and difficulty breathing.
The reporting module supports event based surveillance systems by gathering unstructured data of events resulting from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. The broadcast module delivers critical information to the target population based on gathered insights.
The purpose of the solution is designed to complement testing and other efforts to monitor spread of infection. The proposed innovation promises to enhance monitoring systems and improve community communication and awareness.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
As a cost effective, globally accessible solution, the innovation benefits any population at risk of being infected by COVID-19 and has the potential to detect emerging infectious diseases. The solution offers mechanisms for early detection that can help prepare health care systems and allocate necessary resources such as medical equipment and personal protective equipment, mitigating infectious disease emergencies.
To begin, Ulula will target migrant workers in the agriculture sector in North America. Concerns of worker treatment, access to tests and healthcare call for a greater need for surveillance and communication.
Reports from Ontario, Canada, Washington State, USA, and Singapore uncover close quarter living conditions increase risk of infection among migrant workers. Decision makers have limited insights into the true conditions making it difficult to detect and prevent outbreaks among the workers. Workers have limited channels to access information and report concerns. The solution has the ability to close this gap thereby directly impacting and improving the livelihoods of the workers.
The team has engaged in desk research to understand the challenges. The final solution will be co-designed by undergoing a needs assessment and testing with key organizations and users such as industry associations, unions, farmers and migrant workers.
Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Challenge.
The proposed innovation will provide decision critical data in key regions to enhance disease surveillance systems. Offering real-time analytics, decision makers can leverage the insights to accurately detect risk of outbreaks. Rather than reactively respond to global health crises, organizations will be able to rapidly respond to early warning signs and prevent or lessen the impact.
The potential of Ulula’s survey, grievance and broadcast modules goes beyond COVID-19 and can adapt to other demands such as measuring and monitoring the impact of climate change and risk of another pandemic with high risk populations.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Toronto, ON, Canada
What is your solution’s stage of development?Scale: A sustainable enterprise working in several communities or countries that is looking to scale significantly, focusing on increased efficiency
Who is the primary delegate for your solution?
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?A new technology
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
While Ulula is not the only worker voice technology or company to leverage mobile phones to access stakeholder insights and facilitate communication, Ulula is unique and innovative in its ability to centralize numerous capabilities and provide rich and dynamic analytics to clients and partners.
Unlike other solutions and primary competitors, Ulula’s analytics dashboard is proprietary and built in-house by the development team. This allows the solution to be more agile by being able to better respond to industry and client needs.
Ulula’s anonymous two-way automated grievance mechanism is another differentiator. In an effort to disrupt how traditional grievances are filed by workers and community members, Ulula set out to mobilize accessible channels so that anyone, regardless of access to the internet, can safely and privately submit a concern without their identity being known. The two-way communication functionality allows case managers to follow-up with informants without knowing their phone number, name, or any other personal information. This ensures the informant does not have to fear retaliation and gives them a voice when other channels have failed them in the past.
Ulula’s case management platform allows organizations to seamlessly collaborate with their partners such as NGOs and other companies to resolve worker and community grievances.
Competitor details available upon request.
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
The core of Ulula’s technology is the analytics and processing capabilities necessary to visualize real-time insights on the dynamic and interactive dashboard.
Ulula is able to achieve this by leveraging chatbots to automate data collection from workers and community members. The company’s global telecom partnerships allow the solution to deploy almost anywhere in the world and manage any language script necessary, making it the most accessible solution on the market. The simple chatbot ensures that data is collected as quickly as possible and informants that submit grievances are able to submit as much information without speaking to a human, thereby scaling the solution beyond human capacity.
The dashboard filter functionality allows the end user/decision maker to interact and manipulate the data to make informed decisions. The filter also allows the users to splice and dice the data by demographic information, which is critical when understanding gendered differences and how programs impact women and men differently. The traffic light system visually alerts the user to key risks to help prioritize the allocation of resources and support.
Provide evidence that this technology works.
Ulula has engaged over one million people in 28 countries in more than 25 languages in agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, fishing, and food processing. This press release speaks to the success of the RSPO and Ulula collaboration and outlines the next phase to scale the pilot with Wilmar International.
By request, the team can share several private links that provide an overview and demo of the engagement modules: broadcast (notifications and alerts), grievance (two-way anonymous communication and case management), and the survey module. There is also a demo video of the dashboard, which showcases how the system analyzes and visualizes incoming data in real-time.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
What is your theory of change?
Available upon request
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
Ulula’s goal is to support and encourage long term relationships between companies and communities, brands and suppliers and workers, to lift marginalized people out of poverty and improve worker and community livelihood. This will be done by identifying ways to improve labour conditions such as ensuring a living wages, no recruitment fees, no child labour and forced labour.
In light of COVID-19, Ulula also sees an opportunity to provide support in a time when lockdowns and travel limitations prevent traditional communication and support channels. Ulula is already providing support in this capacity across several sectors. In the next year, Ulula is committed to working with industry leaders and associations to further incorporate remote and digital solutions.
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?
Internal human capacity is the biggest barrier to accomplishing our goals and achieving the desired level of scale and impact.
Primarily software development and solutions capacity. Software development and technological capacity must grow as client demand and program opportunities scale.
Ensuring the solution team grows in proportion to increasing demand from projects is also necessary. The solutions team manages platform configuration, deployment, translations, testing, and overall management of the solution. The team has grown in the last year to accommodate increasing demand and growth but will need to further add to the team this year.
How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
The team is making plans to increase internal capacity.
In the last year, the solutions team developed a process to be able to quickly onboard new configuration and deployment leads. This will be essential to be managing client relationships and troubleshooting potential issues.
The team recognizes the power of standardization to accelerate scale and growth.
Many of the projects require substantial co-design, which means the technology remains the same but the content such as the survey design and methodology vary based on client requirements and needs. However, one way to scale is by offering the market standardized solutions.
Some of these new solutions are already available on the company’s website. One example is a solution designed especially for facilities to assess the impact of the coronavirus on the workplace, worker wellbeing, and productivity.
What type of organization is your solution team?For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models
How many years have you worked on your solution?
Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
Ulula is made up of industry and subject matter experts bringing a diverse range of skills necessary to run an agile data and analytics solution in the human rights and social impact space.
The majority of the development team has been with Ulula since its inception and is led by a senior software developer with more than 30 years of experience. The solutions and program team is responsible for designing client programs and ensuring program success throughout the lifecycle of the project. In addition to offering a hands on approach from the onset, which being with a collaborative co-design process, the solutions team continues to troubleshoot and offer recommendations to drive success throughout the project.
The team’s experience working in diverse sectors and addressing unique challenges makes them well positioned to design and deliver the solution. The team's years of experience leveraging a human centered design approach to tackle complex challenges give them the necessary tools to collaborate with key members in the global health community. Potential partner organizations that have a strong presence in the migrant worker advocacy community have also been identified to help inform the program design, content and application of the solution.
Working with sector experts will ensure the program and solution team have the necessary insight to design a solution that will not only be adopted by the end user but also ensure a positive impact on their livelihoods.
What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?
Ulula collaborates with global partners to support program delivery. These include on the ground delivery of the solution, remediation, corrective action planning, and grievance case management support. The partners bring cultural knowledge, local language capabilities, sector and subject matter expertise to ensure Ulula clients receive the necessary support to improve the livelihood of the workers they source from.
Ulula also has several strategic partnerships such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. The partnerships has resulted in worker voice solutions informed by their certification standards and guidelines.
Ulula also has technology partners where the worker voice solution and data is integrated into the partner’s platform.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?Organizations (B2B)
What is your path to financial sustainability?
Ulula’s path to financial sustainability is being realized through the B2B SaaS model to ensure all client expenses associated with the product, service and third-party costs are covered.
Why are you applying to Solve?
As a team of social innovators and entrepreneurs we seek to find global challenges that our technology and innovation can address. We began a company to address community impact and engagement in the mining sector and scaled to mitigate human rights in the global supply chain.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic many of our clients have approached us to help assess the impact of the pandemic on their workforce and community members and understand how our communication channels can raise awareness, distribute resources, and improve individual hygiene. While healthcare and global health systems are a new space for our team, we believe that our innovation can make a substantial impact. Our purpose and mandate is to give a voice to voiceless in order to improve lives.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
Please explain in more detail here.
We seek to explore and secure partnerships that can help us scale our solution in sectors we currently work in and enter new sectors.
These can be consulting firms working with organizations that require digital impact measurement tools or industry associations looking for digital tools to help their members monitor and assess performance.