How People’s Emergency Center optimized impact with AI

One organization's journey from outdated systems to upgraded technology

By Kelly Durand, director of organizational learning, People’s Emergency Center 

I consider the best part of my job to be the people I work with. They are passionate about changing lives and impacting society for good. As the director of organizational learning for the People’s Emergency Center in Philadelphia for the last 15 years, I’ve had the pleasure to witness first-hand how this passion can empower people to thrive. PEC is a non-profit organization that serves communities experiencing homelessness, helping them get the resources they need. But this takes a great amount of coordination, teamwork and the technology needed to help navigate a crisis.

The last few years have been especially difficult on those experiencing homelessness, who were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. This increased the need for our services. Without the proper tools to succeed, many in helping professions are asked to do more with less, which can lead to low morale. In fact, 41% of global workers across industries report experiencing burnout.

While it’s easy to think of upgraded technology in non-profit environments as a “nice-to-have”, the truth is that technology can aid in providing the speed, efficiency, and intelligence that allows us to do our jobs. At PEC, we experienced the difference after working with Dell Technologies.

Getting the optimal IT upgrade

Just before 2020, when our outdated systems no longer served our daily needs, the decision was made to get new systems from Dell that included Optimizer technology. This AI software personalizes the experience to each user, providing increased security through privacy features, faster data downloads, and improving app performance. The difference for the team at PEC was like night and day.

Prior to this partnership, we were using much older systems. Some team members were using computers that were six to eight years old. After the systems upgrade, we were able to support employees at every IT skill level, increasing productivity across our organization, while enabling them to perform their jobs from a variety of locations. This couldn’t have been more fortunate to happen just before the start of the pandemic. Because of our new systems, we were allowed to continue to work seamlessly from home when things shut down. This was extremely important, as the community we serve was impacted so greatly by the effects of this tumultuous time.

Automation in action

When selecting our new devices, I didn’t realize they’d feature Optimizer and AI technology. This has made a huge difference in the work we do. Any device downtime negatively impacts the people we serve. Having faster access to data, reliable devices and support services has enabled us to do our jobs better. With AI, our systems are personalized with intelligent audio, which has surprised us in its positive impact to our work.

Emergency centers can be action-packed and loud. This feature cancels out noise and enables our team members to be heard more clearly, reducing stress for employees on calls and allowing them to communicate professionally. An external partner even commented to my team and made a remark about how clear she sounded on the phone call.  This is all because of the AI software that adjusted to her voice and the noise level in the room.

While I couldn’t have envisioned the impact personalization through AI would have on our work at PEC, it allows us to focus on the people we serve, increasing our capacity as an organization with intelligent solutions.

Doing more with more

Imagine the powerful impact that could come from every organization like PEC having the intelligent solutions that makes jobs easier. The morale boost to employees who don’t have to wait for items to download, the time and energy that could be saved working efficiently with AI software, the stress reduction when working with a systems’ support team- could positively impact so many communities across the world.

Every organization needs great technology. This applies to non-profits, too, who need the assistance now more than ever. What we’ve found through this partnership is that the more efficient we can be, the happier employees are going to be. The better the services we’re going to be able to provide, the more folks we’ll be able to get connected to what they need to be connected to. And I think that’s just a win all-around.