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When Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017, many were left without power for weeks, which turned into months. All around the world, people with family members in Puerto Rico wondered how they could help, and my close friend was one of them. She ordered boxes of supplies online – all types of solar powered gadgets, water filtration systems, and more. She had some delivered to her home, which she then shipped from her local post office. She also ordered duplicates to ship directly from the retailer – not knowing what would make it and what wouldn’t. Amazingly, they all made it! She spent hours upon hours trying to get supplies to her loved ones, and the local postmaster learned to expect her daily visits during this time. Imagine if there were an app for families to send supplies in this way, an app that linked specific needs – from nutrition to supplies – to specific retailers that could meet those requirements. To make this a reality, you’d need to link your app to enterprise retail systems.

Enterprise retailers that utilize applications on IBM Z can expose APIs to provide relevant ordering information. While the code pattern Transform the retail customer experience with APIs on a mainframe is focused on the use case of creating a virtual shopping list application based on buying patterns, it can easily be translated to create a virtual shopping list based on recommended supply or nutrition shopping lists to assist in relief efforts and specific help for family members. This code pattern has a simple recommendation engine that makes recommendations based solely on prior purchases: item type, item quantity, and duration of time between purchases of that item. The recommendation engine can easily be extended to factor in current supply chain status, and can also insert nutrition suggestions – extend the app to shop for a friend!

Connecting analytics, retailers, and real-time data on the ground in times of crisis with innovative tech solutions will make the future of disaster relief more efficient and effective. The possibilities are endless, and limited only by your imagination. What will you code?