Text Messaging to Help the Red Cross Work BetterALUMNUS DARIO CALOGERO AND HIS COMPANY KALEYRA CAME UP WITH THIS IDEA OF DEVELOPING A MESSAGING SERVICE FOR THE CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY, LOWERING TRAFFIC ON THE HUMANITARIAN ORGANIZATION'S SWITCHBOARD
The idea was conceived while watching New York City mayor Bill de Blasio's press conferences on the coronavirus emergency, but it was developed to support the Italian Red Cross. Dario Calogero, Bocconi Alumnus (class of 1987 with a degree in Business Administration), his son Pietro and the whole team at Kaleyra, the mobile service company Dario founded in 1999, worked together in the days immediately following the Italian lockdown. They had a simple idea, to provide the most tangible help possible: a pro bono text messaging service to help the organization process the many calls to its toll-free number and thus lighten its load.
Within a few days, the Kaleyra and Italian Red Cross teams got to work and created 4353535, a toll-free number from all national operators that allows the population to receive services from the Red Cross. "Through this number, citizens can send a request to the Red Cross via SMS using a single keyword in the message," explains Dario Calogero. "We process the text message and the request is sent to the Red Cross which then contacts the user." Kaleyra has developed three different services for the Italian Red Cross: “The first is for service requests, such as a temporary home volunteer or the delivery of food or medicine. Two other services are also being implemented," adds Pietro Calogero. "One works as an automatic responder to collaboration requests for doctors and nurses, the other as an emergency communication platform between the Red Cross and its 110,000 volunteers in the area."
The service, activated on Sunday 15 March, has received more than 5,000 text messages in the first 4 days: "As a former ambulance volunteer, I am particularly proud of what the whole team is doing, pro bono and from home. There was a lot of work behind this that the Milan team completed in just a few days. You know, the crew is always the most important asset," adds Dario, who coordinated the operation from New York, where he lives. "This initiative is a small thing, but it is something that many businesses are doing for society."
by Andrea Celauro
Translated by Jenna Walker