With dozens of charities offering support to victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, figuring out what aid is available and how to apply it has been more hassle than help to would-be recipients. Each entity has its own criteria, paperwork and deadlines. It’s so confusing, some survivors have opted to apply for no aid at all.
But in a tiny office on 51st Street in New York City, Richard Flynn has been making things a bit easier for those affected by the attacks. As CTO of the 9/11 United Services Group (USG), Flynn works with a consortium of 13 private human services organizations formed last December. He has led the IT effort to coordinate help being provided by member organizations to create a streamlined system for facilitating benefits.
Flynn has created a central repository of client information and led the creation of an application that lets USG service coordinators search a Web-based directory for clients and the benefits they received. Another app helps 9/11 victims’ families contact six financial services companies that offer financial advice.
Bear Stearns donated the office space and IT infrastructure. Ogilvy Interactive of Chicago designed the USG website. IBM granted $1.5 million worth of software and services so that USG could build its database to track services and benefits provided by the charities. Westborough, Mass.-based Ascential Software donated data-cleansing tools.
“What’s amazing here is not the technology but the fact that these charities are submitting client information from their own systems to make this work,” Flynn says. “It’s unprecedented.”