March 27, 2015: The UPS Foundation, the philanthropic arm of UPS has announced the launch of the UPS Relief Link program to help improve the lives of displaced refugees around the world through optimized distribution and tracking of critical supplies in crisis-affected areas.
UPS Relief Link combines the use of a hand-held scanning tool and durable identification cards to deliver superior efficiency by eliminating paper records in the refugee camps. Using this solution, UNHCR and UPS have been able to speed distribution time, provide verifiable receipt of vital provisions ensuring equitable distribution, and minimize theft through their pilot program in Ethiopia (Dollo Ado) and Mauritania (Mbera).
Introduced at the 2015 Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development Conference (DIHAD), the program was developed in collaboration with UNHCR, which delivers food and other relief items to millions of refugees worldwide.
Also at DIHAD, UPS signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Dubai's International Humanitarian City (IHC). The agreement allows the IHC access to UPS's global capabilities including developing solutions to logistics challenges UN agencies and NGOs face distributing aid in the region.
The UPS Relief Link program was developed leveraging UPS's proprietary Trackpad technology, which was first implemented to assist The Salvation Army with relief efforts following the devastating earthquakes in Haiti in 2010. The technology provides full visibility into the supply chain journey of urgently-needed items through the critical "last mile" of delivery to refugees, where human tracking and data input errors often lead to inconsistent delivery and distribution.
"We are honored to partner with UNHCR and apply our expertise in logistics and supply chain management to help solve the global challenge of ensuring accurate and equitable distribution of nutrition and other life-saving supplies to refugees," said Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation. "Humanitarian relief and resilience is a core focus of The UPS Foundation, and we look forward to working with UNHCR to extend the UPS Relief Link program to additional camps in the near future."
Compatible with handheld barcode readers as well as Android tablets, UPS Relief Link has driven improved operational efficiency for UNHCR. At the Mbera camp alone, UNHCR was able to streamline technology needs from 25 laptops to 5 tracking devices while eliminating concerns around shortened battery life. Additionally, UPS Relief Link can now produce previously unavailable automated inventory and data reports within seconds.