Help Requests is a platform that removes the friction in connecting those who are willing to help with those who need it. It’s a space to post requests and to fulfill those requests.
Request Help Network was built by our team in response to the COVID-19-related events. The term “community” has quickly evolved to be mostly online and a lot of people are being left behind. We plan to give people of all ages the opportunity to provide a positive impact in their community through their volunteer work. We tailored this aspect of our project to meet and exceed the guidelines given by National Geographic.
We saw a message on a Facebook group from Prestonwood Hollow, a hospital nearby, asking for supplies. They needed mainly reusable cloth face masks for everyone because their clinical-grade masks were kept for riskier situations (such as attending confirmed sick patients). Mind you this was just two weeks into isolation and we were already 500 masks in. This is a slow process. We plan on streamlining this process by allowing both companies and surrounding neighborhoods to collaborate to produce/manage products that can help overwhelmed medical centers. By removing the need to sift through countless social media sites, Request Help Network gives sponsors such as State Farm clear insight into what a community needs, and how they can help.
What it does
Instead of having to piece together different social media groups and pages to request resources from the community, they can go into a specific website where they can request PPE, other materials, and volunteers. A much easier experience than joining 100 different Facebook groups. We want to display how you increase social accountability with 100% transparency. We believe that this will help people in the short term and drive a new sense of community while people physically distance themselves. We also want to show how businesses can use blockchain to verify some aspect of their business is real & auditable. They don’t have to give complete access to their code as a smart contract does. We connected our platform with the Hedera Hashgraph ledger, which is a network run by IBM, T-Mobile, Boeing, among many businesses.
How we built it
The Stack is a ReactJS front end, Express backend, and Mongo database. Help Requests is based on a blogging platform called RealWorld.io. We only used it because it provides authentication and database bindings (that way we don’t start from scratch). We customized the platform to have requests and pretty much everything you see now. We connect the platform to Hedera Hashgraph via the Express backend using hash-sdk. We used glitch.com to set up our environments. It's a super easy platform to work with which allowed us to create an almost-production-ready platform (still need to write a few unit tests).
Challenges we ran into
Coming up with a comprehensive platform that would fulfill the needs of different sponsors was our main challenge. We were able to come up with an intersection of what each company was looking for.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Being able to network with our sponsors has opened our eyes to many unforeseen applications of Hedera Hashgraph Ledger.
What we learned
We were able to figure out best practices for creating auditable logs from our code. Anyone can track the entire lifecycle of a request, from creation to confirmation, on the ledger. Each event is added, as well as a hash including the information. This means that someone can’t edit what they’ve done on the platform.
What's next for Help Request Network
We want to work with State Farm to encourage their customers and employees to participate in the network in different capacities. We also look to partner with National Geographic and UT Dallas to plan events to encourage students to help maintain the campus during the pandemic. We plan to work with Smurfit Kappa to fulfill requests from Hospitals around the country. Help Request can easily scale to include new partnerships and accept volunteers from anywhere in the world.
Solutions we hope to provide
We hope to give NatGeos the power to give young people the ability to provide a positive impact on their community. By networking directly with companies and hospitals in need, we can provide a channel through which aspiring students can help. Hotwiring into the community and medical suppliers allows for the customers and State Farm to see a more refined picture, by clearly listing the medical needs as well as manpower needed down to a community basis. Smurfit Kappa's corrugated products can be used to customize the needs of both the companies supplying medical products and the states/hospitals that need them. Item counts per box are not changeable for some companies, however, connecting the needs of companies is something Request Help excels at. Fears stemming from the coronavirus often comes from the inability to act. Request Help alleviates that fear by giving communities the ability to safely interact with hospitals and the companies supporting them. Networking for underserved communities is a problem many universities face. Request Help gives students needing more exposure to the medical field direct access to the supply chains that fuel our health care industry. UTD students can support their community and add the many aspects of supply management to their resumes.