When the shift to essential services began in Canada, Qwhery founder Matt Pietryszyn noticed the struggle many people faced with finding localized COVID-19-related information. The Fleming College graduate decided to put his Geographic Information Systems (GIS) skills to use and launched a platform to help keep the public informed.
“While working on another project (ProjectPandemic), I met Sabrina Tang, owner of SaFuture Inc. We discussed how there was so much information about COVID-19 cases on the Internet, yet many people still didn’t know where to get it, in terms of their own communities,” said Matt. “We decided to collaborate on a solution that would send that localized information directly to anyone who registered for the daily or weekly notifications.”
The platform, which is a collaboration between Qwhery and SaFuture Inc., enables people to receive local COVID-19-related data directly to their phone for free. Subscribers receive alerts or daily and weekly summary notifications for confirmed cases, recoveries, tests and deaths within their health region in Canada or county in the United States. The COVID-19 Alerts System utilizes data curated by Esri Canada provided by Health Regions across Canada and Johns Hopkins University for American data.
“We felt it important to keep this a free service because we wanted to be able to help get this information out to everyone who wanted it, with no restrictions or barriers,” said Matt. “We were able to secure a grant from Twilio, a leader in SMS technology, and have been able to support and sustain the COVID-19 Alerts System at a very low cost.”
The response to the platform has been positive, with people subscribing from all over North America. “As subscribers to our service continue to receive their daily notifications, they get a better understanding of the pandemic and what’s happening in their own communities,” said Matt.
The GIS graduate said he entered the industry in 2003 with confidence and a head-start thanks to his Fleming College education, which trained him on industry-standard tools and software and encouraged him to be creative with projects and assignments.
“I believe that my experience at Fleming gave me the confidence to enter the workforce and provided me with a strong network of peers and mentors that helped me since I graduated,” said Matt. “The faculty was very knowledgeable of the industry and having that insight shared with me at the beginning of my career really helped me be confident in my decisions to pursue various roles in GIS.”
After working for the City of Brampton, Esri Canada and the City of Hamilton, Matt founded Qwhery in August 2019 as a creative outlet to experiment with ideas and develop solutions to benefit a wide audience. Qwhery is a leader in implementing voice technology and geographic information systems. Their flagship product, Q11, connects smart home devices and voice assistants to local government open data portals, and the Qwhery cloud helps cities connect their services to residents through smart home technology, open data and community engagement.
Matt is currently focused on connecting Amazon Alexa and Google Home with Municipal Open Data, location-based information and services to efficiently provide citizens with information from their municipality– without needing to search on a website or call 311.
After working in GIS for 17 years and founding Qwhery, Matt continues to use his Fleming College skills and knowledge and highly recommends the program to those interested in this career path.
“I enjoyed my time at Fleming College very much. I got involved through a job at the computer lab and really immersed myself in the program,” he said. “I would absolutely recommend the GIS program to others, and I do every chance I get.”
For information about Qwhery, Location Intelligence and Voice Tech, please contact Matt Pietryszyn at email@example.com.