Inspiration

In Durham alone, over 43,000 residents live below the poverty line. In a city where the eviction crisis is displacing residents that have lived here for generations, it's more important than ever to ensure that these residents can access the resources necessary to assist them. Although there are dozens of nonprofits in Durham that are eager to help, not having access to reliable transportation and conflicting hours of operation can make it difficult for individuals to access these resources. Regardless of situation, the vast majority of people who live below the poverty line or are homeless have a smartphone and with our app, they'll be able to use it to access these crucial resources.

What it does

Penny, our AI powered chatbot, provides a streamlined, quick way for users to determine which resources are relevant and available to them, whether it be emergency housing, building credit, finding a job, and more.

How we built it

We used XCode/Swift to build the front-end of our app and interact with the AI Chat Bot using Google Cloud's Dialogflow.

Challenges we ran into

Accomplishments that we're proud of

What we learned

What's next for EmpowerUp

We'd like to enable our app to be used offline to make it more accessible to individuals that lack somewhere to connect to wifi or don't have a data plan. Expanding to android would also make this more accessible because android smartphones are available at a much lower price range than iPhones. Currently our resources are Durham specific - ideally, we'd like to expand to more cities and resources. Adding more sophisticated feature interactions to facilitate an easier experience for the user. For example, if a user were to find a shelter to go to, it would be helpful if Penny could suggest a bus route for the user to take. Expanding the job search interaction also has a lot of potential - for example, the user could communicate to Penny their past work experiences through the chat and she could format it into a resume ready to submit.

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