In the native Hawaiian culture, “Kokua” is a very important word and concept. Kokua is a way of relating to others that is characterized by kindness and a desire to be of help.
We built Kokua to create social change in our environment. After witnessing the devastating effects of natural disasters recently, we decided to build an application to connect those in need with volunteers and emergency personnel in their community. Our application is powered by our human desire to help others in need.
What it does
The application allows those in need to create requests for assistance after a natural disaster as occurred. These requests can be found with ease by responders based on the ZIP code that the responders enter with their address which helps match people to local requests.
How we built it
In order to keep a record of users' requests and profiles, we are using MySQL which is running on Ubuntu Linux hosted by Amazon Web Services Elastic Compute Cloud. This database then communicates through an Apache web server using Python to export JSON and receive data from Swift for a final product on iOS.
The application was specifically built for iOS, as we believe cellular data will be the most accessible way to communicate in the event of regional power outages, etc.
Challenges we ran into
Getting Swift and MySQL to communicate was a difficult task because we were not experienced in either. We also ran into issues with getting the Swift cache to clear after a ZIP code was entered in.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
This was our group's first hackathon and we are really proud that we did not give up. We met randomly on the first day and couldn't be happier about our experience. Staying up all night as a group with a positive attitude was very important and we are proud we could connect everything from AWS to iOS.
What we learned
We learned that we need to do more research on app development to help speed up the process and get more fingers on board at a time because not everyone knew Swift. We also learned how to complete a full stack application.
What's next for Kokua
Some of the enhancements we hope to bring to Kokua are: The ability to send and compile user data to government agencies, to perform analysis on damage and need based on location, in order to be better prepared in the future. By identifying hotspots of areas in need of aid, government agencies will be better equipped to serve. Implement pictures associated with requests so that volunteers can see the damage.
Please feel free to demo in person on our iOS device as it is not available on the App Store.