We’ve entered into these strange times where self quarantining alone and making sure you don’t leave the house without your mask and gloves has become the norm. Unfortunately what’s also starting to turn normal is the fear and anxiety that many people experience dealing with these situations that we’re now facing every single day.
The sad truth is, we have this rather large population of people who are much more susceptible to COVID-19 and the risk to them if they contract it is life threatening. Asthmatics, people with immune disorders, the elderly and even just people who are just badly out of shape.
For this large but limited set of the global population, doing simple things that we all take for granted like getting groceries or getting the mail is now much more dangerous. On top of that, many people may not be fortunate enough to have others to rely on so they have no other choice but to take the risk in order to survive... Imagine that… Risking your life so you can get groceries.
That’s a situation that I don’t think anyone should ever have to be put in. That is the problem that we’re solving with CheckUpOn.me.
CheckUpOn.Me provides a peer-to-peer message and outreach platform for creating connections between volunteers, public safety professionals and people in need. During the COVID-19 pandemic our goal is to help where it's needed most by connecting people in need with volunteers and professionals who will be ready to take action.
Our solution is built on top of the Open Source React and NodeJS project called Spoke. Spoke is an application that facilitates texting between end users and volunteers and is most well known for being used by grassroots political campaigns in the USA such as the Bernie Sanders Campaign and Elizabeth Warren Campaign for facilitating voter outreach.
CheckUpOn.Me is part of the Reach4Help.org family. There are a large number of organizations struggling with certain logistics, such as coordinating their volunteer workforce, prioritizing the most urgent requests, and ensuring that all requests get fulfilled. Reach4Help.org is an open project that aims to address these issues, by enabling those in need to receive help and enabling partner groups and organizations to help more efficiently by mobilizing their volunteers with the help of Reach4Helps relief management platform.
How I built it
The website is a simple HTML/CSS website currently. I will be switching it to a dynamic platform in the near future, as the website is purely informational right now. https://checkupon.me
The outreach application is powered by a modified version of the Open Source tool called Spoke(https://moveon.org/). Spoke is an open source text-distribution tool for organizations to mobilize supporters and members into action. Spoke allows you to upload phone numbers, customize scripts and assign volunteers to communicate with supporters while allowing organizations to manage the process. It is most famously known for being used by the Bernie Sanders Campaign and Elizabeth Warren Campaigns for voter outreach.
It's an application that I feel has much of the needed functionality. It also has a huge community behind it that is passionate about helping save lives in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Where can I learn more?
You can learn more about CheckUpOn.Me here: https://github.com/checkuponme/info.
You can learn more about Reach4Help here: https://github.com/reach4help/reach4help.
People we're looking for
We are looking for people with development experience related to NodeJS, React and responsive web design.
We are also looking for people with experience in managing groups of volunteers, phone bankers, or text bankers to join our team as volunteer coordinators and advisors.
We are also seeking someone to help manage our social media and hackathon presence.
And of course, we need volunteers to check up on people in need using the app!
If you are interested in helping, introduce yourself in #team-checkuponme on our slack server: https://ckup.me/slack.
Everyone is welcome to take a peek at our project board: https://ckup.me/projects
Challenges I ran into
Funding. Since I'm still in the development phases, all hosting is provided out of pocket by me. From historical data obtained from the spoke project, operating CheckUpOn.Me could range in cost from $3,500/year for 10,000 conversations/month, to $30,000/year for 100,000 conversations/month.
Twilio has graciously offered a start-up boost of 80,000 texts that we are launching with. $10,000 in infrastructure funding has been promised by AWS as well.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
As this project is still in it's infancy, I can say that I'm proud of the quickness that I was able to mobile with other groups such as The Cure, The COVID Response Network, Reach4Help and The Progressive Coders Network and get this project started.
What's next for CheckUpOn.Me
While our current goal is to support the fight against COVID-19, our end goal is to help enable virtual civic collaboration for creating the cure for significant systemic risks to which adequate public and private solutions don't exist by rapidly creating and spreading global, community driven, open source solutions. The success of this project will likely lead to expanding the platform to support other worthwhile causes.