Urban-X has inspired us to think about our community. We're often asked for money by New York's neediest while we stumble across those too exhausted to beg who we'd like to reach out and help. With TheHelpingHand.Club we want to leverage technology and information to create a tool that enables New Yorkers to give those in need something more valuable than cash, access to life changing, maybe life saving resources. We aim to build an ever growing Club of people making their home a stronger, healthier place for all of its citizens

What it does

TheHelpingHand.Club is a platform that empowers people to make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers at their nadir. When a "Club Member" comes across someone requesting money or a person she'd like to help, the app provides a list of nearby resources she can direct the person to (e.g. soup kitchen, shelter, hospital). If it appears the person is in no condition to make it there on his own, she can even gift him an Uber ride to the destination with a simple click

How we built it

ESRI: Provides the location API via which we were able to find the closest facilities to the user’s location. In addition, we used ESRI’s API during our data ingestion in order to geocode our resources’ addresses.

NYCOpenData: The data that we used to back our service. Provides the GPS coordinates, addresses and other critical info for resources like soup kitchens and shelters in NYC.

Twilio: Allows managers of resources to update the status of their facilities (i.e. open/closed or full/vacancies. The update message is simple as “*” and it will be updated in realtime.

Python/Flask: The framework we used to power our backend API. Our hosting service for our .club domain name

JavaScript: The UX that holds our Google Map display resources and tools for getting a person in need to them

Google Maps: The means by which we display the five to ten soup kitchens, shelters, and hospitals closest to the user

Challenges we ran into

Calling APIs across domains, Determining which resources are close to a user and open, One click Uber reservations, Twilio updates of resource open/closed status

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  1. Optimizing and customizing location services and discovery to show relevant results and layering information on our maps in a resource efficient manner that delivers a great user experience

  2. Combining multiple APIs and datasets in the short time frame: Esri, Twilio, Google maps API and NYC open datasets

  3. Making the app responsive by caching expensive REST API calls and layering our own nearest recommendations with ESRI’s calls

What's next for TheHelpingHand.Club

Hopefully we can continue to work with the city of New York and potential sponsors like Uber to grow the Club of New Yorkers offering a Helping Hand instead of a handout

Datasets used:

  1. Food Pantries: link

  2. Social shelters in New York: link

  3. New York State hospitals: link

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