Communities affected by natural disasters often receive a lot of help immediately after the catastrophe, but this help often dwindles within months, arising from factors such as bureaucratic delays, legal barriers in providing relief, and promises that are not kept or fall short of expectations. We focus on the rehabilitation phase of disaster relief recovery (this phase occurs about a year after the disaster), hoping to provide a network empowering communities to band together in rebuilding what was lost. Most of all, we want to remind hurting communities that their spirits may be bent, but certainly aren't broken.
Members of our team were very affected by the recent occurrences of natural disasters in the past year, from hurricanes in America to floods and earthquakes in Asia. We keep the affected victims in our prayers, and hope that by hacking this topic, we can contribute to the rebuilding phase in the aftermath of disaster.
What it does
Bent not Broken is an online web application where users can lead community initiatives in post-disaster relief projects within their neighborhoods. Other neighbors in the community can view these initiatives with map visualizations (Google Maps API) to contribute to meaningful projects in their nearest vicinity. These projects can also be visualized as icons sorted by associated tags corresponding to the type of skills needed to volunteer with each particular relief effort so that users can join projects they find meaningful tailored to their skill sets and volunteering interests, such as medical, food, rebuilding, community, psychological resilience etc.
How we built it
We used Google Cloud's Firebase and Storage database to store our project information, images, user info and various other data that powers our app. Google Maps API provides extensive visualization, integrated into all major functionality of the platform. A gigantic map view of ongoing local projects on the landing page, with pop-up info windows, is the best place to start reaching out. Associating location with a new project idea is as simple as placing and dragging a new map pin.
Challenges we ran into
Working on a web app entails a wide consideration of edge cases and a macro control flow from user log in to posting projects, editing projects, visualizing other projects and being able to find the profiles of others so as to reach out and volunteer. The main challenge was having ambitious plans and ideas, but limited resources and time, but we are glad to say we implemented most of our core functionalities to show that our idea does work! If given more time, we would play around with different APIs and include cooler features like CV to challenge ourselves and learn more.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We truly believe that our app is a powerful tool in rallying the community together in the face of disaster.
What we learned
Working to create a full-fledged web application in the short duration of a hackathon is challenging, but it has been made much better by (1) the app being meaningful, (2) teammates being incredibly passionate and respectful of each other's perspectives and new ideas, and (3) the conducive learning environment - friendly organizers, fellow hackers, mentors and sponsors here at Big Red Hacks.
What's next for Bent Not Broken
We think the idea and its framework are well established from user authentication to inputting projects and visualizing the available projects. Nevertheless, we hope to continue to make improvements to its functionality in details such as sending direct messages on our platform, sharing volunteer opportunities on social media, expanding the user network, and enhancing the application's visual appeal and user experience.