A new online tool has been launched to help keep the region’s residents informed and in touch through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Grey Bruce Huron Strong app and accompanying website aim to keep people connected, provide a trustworthy curation of relevant local information, and grow into a powerful regional platform to help navigate through the immediate and eventual ramifications of the ongoing pandemic.
Started in a partnership by Bruce Power, the Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) and NPX, the Grey Bruce Huron Strong platform comes at a time when people are trying to stay safe by staying physically separated, and trying to keep pace with a daily onslaught of ever-evolving pandemic news.
“People want to help, and they’re looking for ways to stick together . . . we have to stay socially connected,” said NII president Bruce Wallace. “This is just one attempt, and hopefully a powerful attempt to connect people across a region who will share a lot as they go through this, whose experiences are the same, and who are going to experience the same kind of problems.”
For now, the platform serves as a one-stop-shop providing the latest local and authoritative health information, resources for people and businesses, and a way to connect those who need help with those in the community offering assistance.
There is a list of local closures, a list of businesses that remain open, and links to online educational tools and entertainment ideas.
“Essentially what it does is it curates and aggregates right now, but it will grow over time and evolve, and it will do so in a way that people will find valuable,” Wallace said. “It’s going to come down to how do businesses use it? How do people use it? How can we add features as we go that make it more valuable and powerful over time.”
The Grey Bruce Huron Strong platform was initiated by Bruce Power in cooperation with both Grey and Bruce Counties. The app and website were built by Kincardine’s NPX Innovation and the NII.
“Make no mistake. There are not going to be any fees associated with this. No one is going to make any money from this. There is no intent to turn it into anything like that at all,” Wallace said.
The group is hoping for a lot of user input in the early days as the online tool grows and adapts to serve local needs with a regional perspective.
“We can speak with a louder and more powerful voice when we speak as a region about things that affect us as a region,” Wallace said. “It’s very much a perpetual work in progress.”
Wallace said the hope is for the app and website to grow into something that will help the region’s residents navigate through the resulting economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, even after the immediate public health crisis slows and eventually stops.
“I think the economic crisis part of this is something that’s going to be with us for a while and we’re going to need to find some creative ways to pull ourselves out of this and to offset some of the deep pain this is causing,” Wallace said.
The free app is available on the Apple App Store (look for “GBH strong”), and is also expected to be released on the Google Play Store this week. All the information can be accessed directly at www.gbhstrong.com.