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Trulioo Works with Red Cross to Aid B.C. Fire Evacuees

Red Cross
Sharan Dhillon, Associate Director of Corporate Partnerships – Department of Philanthropy, accepts Trulioo’s $10,000 donation on behalf of the Canadian Red Cross.

This season was B.C.’s worst fire season in history, notable for three reasons; first, for the largest total area burned in recorded history; second, for the largest number of people evacuated; and third, for the largest single fire ever in British Columbia.

The devastating wild fires wreaked havoc throughout the province and displaced approximately 65,000 people, costing close to $550 million.

In an effort to support families and individuals affected by the fires, the Canadian Red Cross worked in close collaboration with the Government of British Columbia, as well as other partners and donors.

In order to best support those in need, Red Cross needed a way to quickly and easily identify relief fund recipients. To do so, they enlisted the help of Trulioo.

Trulioo teams up with Red Cross

The fires began in early July, and within days there were upwards of 200 fires burning, prompting the issues of numerous evacuation orders. On July 7, a provincial state of emergency was declared by Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, on behalf of the Government of British Columbia. This was the first state of emergency in B.C. in 14 years, and the longest in the province’s history. It was finally called off nearly three months later, on September 15. In total, it is believed that more than 1,256 fires were fought.

Trulioo played a critical role in providing relief to the victims of the BC forest fires. By providing identity verification to the families that were affected, the Red Cross was able to efficiently distribute emergency funds to those in need — approximately 50,000 people were verified.

“With Trulioo’s identity verification technology, we didn’t have to resort to things like manually handing out vouchers, which would have delayed families from access to much needed funds,” Sharan Dhillon, Associate Director of Corporate Partnerships, Department of Philanthropy.

“In the 10 years that I’ve been at Red Cross, I’ve come to learn that these fires are not only increasing in severity, but in frequency. By the time we put one fire out, another area of people were being evacuated. Luckily, the fast-acting team at Trulioo were extremely helpful and delivered timely identity verification services to help aid the evacuees.”

How Technology Can Aid Non-Profits

Prior to integrating with Trulioo’s services, the Red Cross had to manually verify the identities of recipients, which was time-consuming, tedious and at times, problematic.

Earlier this month, the Red Cross had to confront allegations that fraudsters were trying to claim money set aside for last summer’s evacuees. It was reported that people were using their addresses to access Red Cross funds intended for people who were displaced from their homes, amid the fires.

At the time, Elysia Dempsey, Red Cross director of B.C. wildfire recovery operations told Global News that “it’s unfortunate, there will always be individuals who do try and take advantage of the system. That’s why we do have mechanisms in place to ensure that they’re not able to access assistance.”

Not only are services on the ground aided by advancements in technology, so too are conflict zones. The use of drones can deliver aid, while preventing people from having to enter potentially life-threatening situations.

A Worthy Cause

For Trulioo’s CEO, Stephen Ufford, this particular cause holds a special place in his heart.

Ufford’s family cabin at Loon Lake was devastated by the fires. And with it, generations of memories.

The family cabin of Trulioo’s CEO, Stephen Ufford, pictured after the devastating B.C. wild fires.

“Losing memories and having to replace ‘stuff’ is one thing, but losing the place you call home is another thing entirely,” Ufford said. “While we can always hold on to our memories, many items that were lost in the fires are irreplaceable. Some belongings carry a lot of sentimental value, especially ones that have been passed down from generation to generation.”

“When people can’t be verified in a timely manner that means they have to wait for funding. That can mean the difference between eating dinner that night, or being able to put a roof over their children’s heads.”

Calling all Tech Companies

To help support the families that were displaced by the wildfires, the team at Trulioo presented the Canadian Red Cross with a donation of $10,000.

“We want to do our part to support those affected by the fires,” said Ufford. “The Red Cross provides vital aid to help improve the lives of vulnerable people in Canada, and we are so appreciative of the humanitarian services they provide during an emergency or disaster.”

With the holiday season around the corner, there are numerous ways for the B.C. tech community to give back to local charities. From helping with fundraising to sharing technical know-how, Trulioo is calling on tech companies all over B.C. to come forward to help our local charities.

Technology is transforming the way non-profits and other charities operate. Innovative apps and financial technology providers, in particular, have the power to revolutionize fundraising, verification processes, and – in the instance of the wildfires – keep track of where the fires are located, how fast they’re spreading, send evacuation alerts and provide 24/7 support.

“Here at Trulioo, we plan to continue our relationship with Red Cross and given our global capabilities we hope to extend our reaches and help other charities – both here in Canada and internationally.”

About Red Cross

The Canadian Red Cross Society is part of the largest humanitarian network in the world – the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The Red Cross’ mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world.

Anyone wishing to donate to the Canadian Red Cross can contact Sharan Dhillon, Associate Director of Corporate Partnerships – Department of Philanthropy, at sharan.dhillon@redcross.ca.

The information in this blog is intended for public discussion and educational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice.

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