In an effort to facilitate a stronger response to another natural disaster, should one ever hit, participants of the Rockaway Beach Civic Hack Day have so far developed a few ideas worth noting.
Five sophomores and juniors from the NYC i-School spent all afternoon working on a prototype for an app which focuses on how best to relay up to date information should a natural disaster hit again. They are working on creating an app that uses location and maps to showcase which areas need more help when a disaster strikes. Folks using the app can see what other people in the community are saying and can even post photos to show damaged areas as well as recommend which areas are mostly affected. There will be a sliding scale from 1 to 5 that lets users know how bad an area is affected. The areas with the most pins or photos will be highlighted so that willing and able neighbors as well as emergency response crews can get to them quicker.
“The only person that knows what’s really happened and how bad it is is the person that lives in that community,” said one of the students.
Anoop Ranganath (Foursquare)
After Hurricane Sandy, Anoop Ranganath was stuck with no power and no Internet in the East Village. As he made his way over to Red Hook to volunteer he noticed that although there were many people there willing to help they weren’t sure what to do.
“I figured it would be cool if there was a volunteer coalition system,” he said.
He is working on a prototype which uses Foursquare to list volunteer sites near to where a natural disaster hits. It would provide an automatic link and users would be able to see the sites on the map. Those interested would text their five-digit zip code to a phone number, which would show them nearby sites where they could volunteer.
“The challenge after today is taking the ideas here and turning it into something that will be workable and changeable,” he said.
The idea behind his mobile app that will be used by a construction manager who goes out, visits a home, assesses the damage and creates a scope of work. The app will enable the manager to fill in the address, what’s going on at the house, and if he’s willing to go in and do demolition – something which can be done with volunteers. He can then make an assessment how many volunteer group days that will be. And the manager can do this for every piece of the larger puzzle of work.
At the end of the scope, the app will churn out two numbers: the number of skilled man hours that you need for carpenters, electricians or other skilled workers and the number of unskilled volunteer workdays. The manager can then flood the info out to the rest of his database and organization to showcase the marketplace for volunteer work days. This way the company can schedule and understand the work better.
“It helps because various people can work separately and connect all the information together and do it efficiently to get all the people back into their homes quicker,” he said.