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An Emergency Communication System Built with Airtable and Make

Mar 20, 2020 | 2 minutes
Customer support communication.

The problem

Hundreds of thousands of communities around the world are in total or partial lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

With healthcare, supply-chain and communication systems under stress, vulnerable individuals are having a hard time fulfilling needs like the provision of food, medical supplies, and hygiene items.

The solution

Make users are in a prime position to help their communities with their automation expertise. 

To assist users in their efforts, we have developed two templates that facilitate the task of connecting volunteers with those who are in need of assistance. Soon we will release a template explaining every module in detail; in the meantime, here's a short version of how it works:

  • The templates use Airtable forms to match volunteers and people who need assistance. There is one form for volunteers and another form for people who need to be assisted.

  • People in need of assistance fill the form with their contact information and their specific needs.

  • Volunteers fill the form specifying availability and which type of needs are they willing to fulfill.

  • Once there is a match, a message or email is sent to the volunteer and the person requiring assistance.

  • The message contains contact information of both people, thus enabling direct communication channels (email, SMS) between the two.

These templates allow for the creation of scalable emergency communication and emergency response systems in just a few hours. Let's take a quick look at the templates:

Template 1: Volunteers

When a new volunteer submits a form via Airtable, Make checks whether there is a person waiting for help. 

If so, the new volunteer is assigned to that person. If not, a thank-you message is sent to the volunteer. 

Template 2: People in need of assistance

When a new person in need of assistance submits a form via Airtable, Make checks whether there is a free volunteer. 

If so, the volunteer is assigned to that person. If not, a message is sent to the person, so they know that they will get help soon. 

In addition, this template deals with the problem of volunteer shortages by sending a message to the admin of the process when there are no volunteers available.

This way, system administrators can engage in efforts to gather more volunteers whenever there is a shortage.

The benefits

  • Connect entire communities while maintaining safety lockdown measures in place

  • Replace less-efficient systems like Whatsapp and Facebook groups

  • Offer multiple communication alternatives (email, SMS) to people in need of assistance

  • Strengthen the sense of community and relieve stress levels at a community-wide scale

Apps used


If you are new to Make and want to start developing solutions for your community, you can sign up here

These are critical moments, and we need to stay together and assist those in need while remaining as safe as possible. If you are in a position to make a difference, this is the time to do it!


Martin Etchegaray

Content Manager and Senior Editor at Make. I enjoy writing and reading about history, science, and tech.

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