When Regulators Called the Thai Social Foundation FCF Responded Quickly with Shiny
The Family Connection Foundation (FCF) was established in 2006 as an outreach of Chiangmai Christian Fellowship Church and very quickly grew into its own independent registered Thai social foundation. Originally, the focus was on providing a safe refuge and “family” for a few of Thailand’s orphaned and abandoned children.
Very quickly this small effort grew into about 20 projects providing social services to exploited, abused, and at risk children, then to formal and informal cooperation with Thai government officials receiving referrals for placement of girls who are pregnant or have children because of violence or exploitation. Then an opportunity came up to care for sick infants awaiting adoption who are at risk of being dropped from the official adoption list because of their failing health.
Now FCF projects cover education support to underprivileged children, professional investigations into sex traffic and family violence issues, basic literacy and rural development projects, and the administrative support to make it all happen. This large project scope relies on the hard work of 200 Thai and expat staff.
The first Shiny project came as a surprise, rush request by the Thai regulatory officials who needed an internet map of the physical locations of each of the projects. They asked for a bilingual map that could group the foundation’s projects in several ways and show photographs of the main entrance to the project.
Starting with a personal mapping project done months earlier using RStudio’s free, open source products, shinyapps.io, and Google’s documentation tools, data scientist Ken Wade quickly created the Shiny application needed while a Thai teammate gathered map coordinates, new photographs, and confirmed addresses and locations. Working together they were able to present the Shiny application to the authorities in about a week.
Although FCF doesn’t know how often the Thai authorities actually use the map, “Our prompt, accurate, and professional looking internet map impressed them and has allowed us to continue the work we want to be doing,” continued Ken.
The next project is a bilingual dashboard that reaches into a bilingual accounting package. FCF projects are led by people who are domain experts in things like social work, advocacy, and investigations – usually not in finance. Last year Ken made an RStudio application to graph every account balance over time for every project – with a trend line predicting where the account balance was heading over the next 3 months. “People loved it!” said Ken. “So making that available to everyone who need it is next.”
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