Smart mapping tech helps deliver more food to Singapore’s most needy

Thanks to state-of-the-art mapping technology, one of Singapore’s most loved non-profit organisations is making their food donation programme ‘smarter’ than ever before.

Anson Quek, Executive Director of Food from the Heart (FFTH), said the charity’s high productivity can be attributed to their recent adoption of a customised smart mapping application.

“Today, FFTH services over 14,500 beneficiaries from more than 150 welfare homes, senior activity centres, self-collection centres and other needy families island-wide ,” Mr Quek said.

“We also have 1,700 volunteers – all with assigned routes – collecting bread from bakers located all across Singapore and only one truck and two vans in our arsenal. To add to the complexity of our operation, we have a significantly expanded number of collection points all with different collection times,” he said.

“Facing a huge network expansion and an increasing number of partners, we realised we needed to look at a different approach to our collection and distribution programme.

“We worked with Geographic Information System (GIS) technology specialists, Esri Singapore, to come up with the solution of developing a purpose-built smart mapping application to help us collect and distribute food to as many beneficiaries as we can, in the most efficient way possible,” Mr Quek said.

The application features a real-time, synchronised map-based view of FFTH’s operations, helping Anson and his colleagues understand how to best optimise their delivery vehicles and other resources.

“Beyond plotting where the collection points are, the smart map enables us to uncover patterns and inefficiencies in our operations, allowing us to better plan how we can best work with our volunteers, partners, and beneficiaries given our limited resources,” he said.

The smart map was rolled out to optimise FFTH’s operations following an agreement between the charity and Singapore’s largest grocery chain FairPrice. Under the partnership, FFTH collects grocery and household supplies donated from all of FairPrice’s 126 supermarket, Finest and Hypermarket branches across the country, to distribute to beneficiaries via the FFTH network.

Together with FFTH, Esri Singapore identified and gathered key data points to analyse the upcoming operations. This included using the newly developed smart map to analyse the average collection load at each FairPrice branch, their location, the capacity of the three collection vehicles, as well as the most efficient routes to get to each collection point.

“We have seen a tangible and measureable improvement in our productivity since adopting this technology, and our operational efficiency has no doubt been improved. It has allowed us to make informed decisions to more effectively work with our partners and serve the community,” Mr Quek said.

“We have needy families relying on us to deliver food on their doorstep, as such, we are committed to ensuring our food collection and distribution programme is effectively managed.”

Esri Singapore CEO Thomas Pramotedham added: “It was our privilege to work with FFTH, and do our part to give back and serve our community. Many organisations like FFTH are often faced with logistics and manpower concerns, but through innovative technologies like GIS, these challenges can certainly be overcome.”

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