Spurred by the knowledge that only a quarter of the agencies reacting to the 2004 South Asia Tsumani had systems to manage the goods and supplies that arrived from more than 40 countries, the Fritz Institute undertook creation of software to improve the delivery and effectiveness of humanitarian aid throughout the world. The Institute’s research showed that some 80% of successful disaster relief is in logistics operations.
The Institute’s Chief Logistics Officer Mitsuko "Mich" Mizushima, notes that, "The majority of field logisticians still use spreadsheets or, equally likely, a pencil and paper to manage incoming supplies during and after a disaster. HELIOS makes it easier for humanitarian organizations to manage their supply chains efficiently and effectively, from mobilization to warehousing, which can mean the difference between life and death for thousands of people in need of aid."
Created in partnership with humanitarian organizations, HELIOS aids in cataloging, tracking and delivering supplies to disaster victims. The project garnered substantial financial and technical support from corporations including Abbott Labs, Applied Materials, Hewlett Packard, Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp., Levi Strauss and Co. and KPMG International.
World Vision International—the largest non-governmental organization in the world—is the first humanitarian organization to implement HELIOS. It is presently being used to manage aid efforts in Somalia. The UK’s Oxfam GB has undertaken a pilot implementation in Africa and Southeast Asia.