Dr. Samuel V. Scarpino, PhD, Chief Strategy Officer“I’d like us to be a place where great leaders want to come and try to do difficult things,” Laurene Powell Jobs recently told the Washington Post on empowering others to do good and do well. With the philosophy of “doing good” at its core, Dharma Platform—a data technology startup— was founded on the same beliefs that one can find in Powell Jobs’ words. Dharma Platform’s mission is to support impact-first organizations as they respond to and prepare for humanitarian crises.
Dharma Platform was founded by an epidemiologist and a computer security expert who found themselves on the frontline of emergency response efforts in Iraq without the requisite technology to gather critically important, ground-truth data. To address this gap, they built a software platform to collect and manage data in the most extreme technology environments. Thus, from a literal war zone, Dharma Platform was born. David Muse, CEO, Dharma Platform says, “Our platform allows for easy, no code development of cloud-enabled applications that empower users to collect and manage data offline or online using any Android or iOS device.”
Dharma Platform’s mobile-first approach allows data collectors and frontline workers to easily capture information and share the data results with teams on the ground and/or decision-makers at headquarters. Put simply, the platform facilitates the exchange of data from field operations in realtime with anyone, anywhere. However, one of the key differentiators for the platform is its ability to operate offline. Samuel V. Scarpino, PhD, Chief Strategy Officer at Dharma Platform, says, “Our platform functions offline and can synchronize data using a mesh network, which circumvents the connectivity issues often associated with emergency or crises responses.” The offline, mesh networks that Dharma Platform utilizes can transmit data among peers through Bluetooth or WiFi mobile devices and can enable these devices to share connectivity. This proves highly beneficial in cases where only one or a few devices have access to the cellular data service.
In 2017 alone, Dharma Platform was deployed across all but one of the major humanitarian disasters—including Hurricane Harvey in the US, the catastrophe in Syria, the Rohingya refugee crisis, and the devastating earthquakes in central Mexico. For example, just days after the earthquakes in Mexico, the Ministry of Health used Dharma Platform to deploy a crowd-sourced surveillance system to 60 volunteers, who gathered health and needs assessment data on hundreds of affected households.
Our platform allows for easy, no code development of cloud-enabled applications that empower users to collect and manage data offline or online using any Android or iOS device.” – David Muse, CEO Dharma Platform
These community volunteers downloaded the Dharma Platform app from the Apple and Google Play stores on their smartphones and, as they gathered data, streamed information back to the Ministry of Health. Similarly, an international NGO used Dharma Platform in trauma clinics to treat casualties of war as Mosul, Iraq was liberated from ISIS. For these organizations—and many others—Dharma Platform is used to secure sensitive information, track supplies, and manage responses and interventions. Crediting the success of their Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform and their in-house experience responding to humanitarian crises, Scarpino says, “At Dharma Platform, we understand the urgency and necessity of the work NGOs and first-responders do because many of us have lived and worked in the same environments.”
Drawing on the experience of their partners and funders, including The Rise Fund, Dharma Platform emphasizes their core value of “doing good” by delivering high-value data for organizations using technology. Specifically, the company will continue to strengthen mesh networking to enable offline and remote capabilities, providing no-code integration between the Dharma Platform architecture and third-party tools, and deploying machine learning for deriving data insights within their application. From a market standpoint, Dharma Platform is planning to extend its focus to adjacent marketplaces, in order to drive value and deliver further returns for the mission-driven company. Muse concludes, “We will continue empowering crisis management teams in the world’s hardest-hit regions, and we want to introduce Dharma Platform to organizations across different sectors that would benefit greatly from its powerful, proven technology.”