-- Two of our team members from Florida have experienced the impact of Hurricane Irma firsthand during the past week even before it made landfall: barren shelves in the grocery store, empty fuel pumps, and miles upon miles of traffic due to people evacuating. Even amidst the chaos and fear, there are stories of people performing altruistic acts to help one another. One Facebook post recounted the story of a woman going to the store in search of a generator for her father who relies on a ventilator. There were no generators left at any store in town, so a generous person who overheard her situation offered her their generator. If an app were able to connect people who were able to offer assistance with people in need, many more beautiful stories like this could exist.

What it does

-- Our app brings together communities to promote cooperation in both the preparation for and the aftermath of hurricanes and other natural disasters. Users are able to offer or request shelter, assistance, supplies, or rides. Others may view these offers or requests and respond to the original poster. Users may find important information, such as evacuation and flood warnings and the contact information of local authorities. Additionally, local authorities can utilize this app to plan their route more effectively and provide the fastest and most efficient care for those who need it the most.

How we built it

-- We built the app in Expo using React Native and React Navigation. We chose Firebase for our database because of it's reliability and sheer ability to scale for an influx of users - prevalent in circumstances such as a natural disaster. Additionally, Firebase provides real time updates so that people can offer or receive help as soon as possible, saving more lives and ensuring the safety of the people in our communities. We also used React MapView to provide a visual for the areas affected.

Challenges we ran into

-- None of our team knew anything about Javascript, React, Expo, or Firebase before we the project. Despite encountering countless roadblocks, we took advantage of PennApp's resources such as mentors, hackpacks, workshops, and students to help us through the difficult, but also very rewarding times.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

-- Being able to tackle a real life problem that is affecting countless of lives in front of our eyes inspired and motivated us, to not only become more empathetic to those around us but to unite and help out our community.

What we learned

-- We learned how to use cutting edge technology such as React Native and Firebase to rapidly prototype a solution that has the potential to save many lives and empower our community in less than 36 hours. We also learned how quickly it can be to help others when we free ourselves from our differences and work together.

What's next for Crisis Connect

-- Next, we will improve the user interface to become more friendly for all of our users. If time allows, we will also let people with disabilities and/or health concerns have priority within the app and introduce a chatbot to let the users have an easier time looking for the information they need. Additionally, we would like to add a feature that allows users to report major damages, shortages, or traffic jams to keep up with the disasters. We understand that during natural disasters, internet may not always be available, but mobile networks are usually still available with a slower, 2g connection. As a result, we hope to utilize a text/chatbot to effectively communicate with those who are stranded or require immediate attention.

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