(originally published on Axon.com)
Companies like to point out that “ideas come from anywhere,” and at Axon, one of our biggest ideas really did. Meet Isabella Giannini, Senior Manager of Customer Loyalty at Axon. She started as a Sales Development Representative, but when Hurricane Florence hit, she saw an undiscovered use for Axon’s people and technology: They could help first responders and emergency teams see the situation from angles above, within and beyond, creating a central command center in hours instead of days and bringing in supplies using their fortified networks.
Isabella pitched the idea as benefiting both corporate philanthropy and social responsibility. It only took the leadership team days to agree. Enthusiastically.
Axon Aid was born in October 2018. In its three years, it has grown into part of our mission to help bring truth and real-time support to help bring truth and real-time services to communities in extraordinary circumstances. Since its inception, Axon Aid has three pillars of focus: emergency response, officer safety & support, and volunteerism. While many Axon Aid deployments cross all three pillars, some specifically touch just one or two.
Axon Aid and Emergency Response
“We would ask questions like, ‘What do responders wish they had 24 or 48 hours before a hurricane or fire, or 24 to 48 hours afterward?” Giannini said. “And we were able to find solutions. For example, we started exploring how we could use drones to help scan areas to respond in life-saving time without taking human resources away from other critical roles.”
Officer Safety & Family First
When the COVID pandemic hit, many responders faced shortages of PPE and masks. The Axon team was able to access needed materials, rally volunteers and get supplies delivered to first responders to help them stay safe during the pandemic. Public safety professionals still had to do their jobs as COVID cases soared and the team supplied 1.2 million masks to more than 1.5 million first responders. The Axon Aid team also worked with distilleries around the country to convert alcohol to sanitizer and procure masks from every corner imaginable.
Every Axon Aid volunteer is a part of Axon. Many of our employee volunteers are former law enforcement, military and dispatch professionals. They have a strong familiarity with the incredible work first responders do and are called to serve those who serve. “Axon Aid volunteers, like the rest of Axon’s global team, truly care about people. Each of us feels passionate about supporting first responders and their communities every day and in real-time during crises,” she said.
“Although donating money can be very helpful, our mission is really to help the people. What better way to do that than by working next to those in public safety in great times of need?” she said. “It is a deeply personal way to get employees involved with our customers on a much deeper level. In addition, we actively help with recovery programs to help the community rebuild and manage resource centers.”
As part of Axon Aid’s emergency response efforts following hurricanes of the last three years, Aid Pilots arrive within hours of a request for Aid and are entirely self-sufficient. In addition, the team provides live streaming drones that can offer real-time aerial views and 2D/3D interactive maps of damaged areas for insurance/inspection purposes within days.
In partnership with the Salvation Army and other relief organizations, Axon Aid can help make rescue and recovery efforts more efficient and reduce response times which saves lives.
“This is so important because there are families who wait, sometimes years, to access aid when their homes are destroyed,” she said. “By increasing efficiency, we can help these families access aid faster in order to rebuild their lives and communities.”
Axon Aid has supported more than 8,000 agencies across 6 countries with the Aid program. In the 3 years Giannini has been with Axon, she helped build a strong core team of 25 pilots and rallied hundreds of employee volunteers.
“It is important to be obsessed in the sense that we think about our customers and communities as people first,” she said. “We work hard to build trust, and we deeply care for the people who are affected by disasters and other on-the-job situations, and there’s never a shortage of volunteers; it’s a beloved program.”
To onboard volunteers, Axon matches their employees to their specific skill sets. Similar to the disaster relief provided after hurricanes, Axon Aid partnered with the Salvation Army’s Emergency/Disaster Services to bring drones and extra manpower to recovery and assessment efforts after the Telegraph and Mescal fires in Arizona.
“For example, if you are bilingual we put you on translation, or if you like to cook we put you in the canteen to help feed people,” she said. “Volunteers become even more passionate about their role when they can work with their strengths.”
“We are committed to supporting our partners and communities when they need someone to step up and step in to help. We don’t do it for the headlines. We do it because we know what it feels like to struggle and the relief you feel when someone wants to help lift you back up. You can’t just credit one person with this program. It is a team of people who were instantly united by an idea and a cause.”
Bella started with Axon as a Sales Development Representative, in our Sales Leadership Program in 2018. She then moved to manage our e-commerce team, where sales grew on average 240% each quarter, and the team launched our first international shopping experience. Bella and her team ran the Got You Covered PPE campaign, which in turn inspired the future of Axon Aid.
Learn more at axon.com/aid