Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that New Zealand will be going into alert level four at 11.59 on Wednesday, bringing the country into total lockdown except for those working in essential services.

Teddy bears are popping up in windows around New Zealand homes as people come up with fun ideas to keep children entertained during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The idea, which has become popular all around the world during the Covid-19 pandemic, is aimed at brightening little spirits when they go for walks around their neighbourhood on a social-distanced scavenger hunt.

What it does

The bear hunt entertains families and brings communities together while staying socially distant. Anyone can put a teddy bear in their window and pin their location on the map. Bear-spotters can use the map to find these furry friends looking out the window!

"Someone witnesses a child about to meltdown, the mum noticed there was a bear in the window and was able to turn the situation around" - Radio New Zealand Interview with Deb Hoffman, 29/03/2020

How we built it

The website landing page was built using Squarespace, while the map has been built using Esri's ArcGIS Online and JavaScript API v4 with ReactJS and Material-UI

Challenges we ran into

  • The map went viral before we had the chance to optimise for performance, we did not anticipate ~19k website hits and 1.1million service requests a day in from a country of 4.5million people
  • Early on people could only enter information without the ability to update it or delete it
  • People pinning bears into the ocean
  • Ensuring people understood that the map was for use in their own neighborhood and to follow Government Guidelines

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We love NZ and our community has been through hard times with earthquakes, shootings and now a lockdown. We are so proud that we can bring smiles and pleasure during these uncertain times.

We are also proud of the media attention that both the hunt and the map have been getting in New Zealand

What we learned

  • Listen to your users and pivot quickly!
  • Anticipate high usage early and built to autoscale
  • We learned how to use ReactJS with Esri's JavaScript API, which is built using Dojo toolkit but can be made compatible with a light shim
  • We learned that it brings so much joy to take time away from commercial work to give back to the community

What's next for Bear Hunt

  • With adequate resources we would look to reuse and build resources for another bear hunt communities around the world
  • The bear hunt is a global phenomenon and we are starting to notice people across other countries pinning bears on the map, we would love to encourage more people globally to use this
  • We are currently working on a capability so people can post their bears feelings
  • We are currently working on the ability to add more than one image of a bear and a gallery for viewing them
  • We are almost live with an open data visualisation portal so people can see location-based trends and patterns from the bear data

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