These are exceptional situations and people affected the most are elderly, sick, and physically challenged. We want them to be safe in their homes and we take care of their chores. Same goes for health workers, we want to help them in whatever way we can as they fight this virus.

Our application works on mutual trust and good samaritans brought together with modern technology. We wanted to build something that didn't require additional software and could be easy to use for someone with limited knowledge of technology.

What it does

Our application connects people who want their groceries to be done by a volunteer in their neighborhood. Since the elderly people are affected the most by the lockdown, we present a simple solution which requires either WhatsApp or through our website. There is no need to install any extra app.

Both the volunteers and the customers register with our system and based on the mutually agreed time, and we find a match in their neighborhood. The customers can communicate their needs by simply taking a picture of their grocery list. Both parties have the details of each other if they want to discuss outside our system. Additionally, we maintain the anonymity of the customer and volunteer prior to the match. All the details are purged or the user can request to do so when they de-register.

To summarize:

  1. We connect people in need with a volunteer in their neighborhood for their grocery shopping.
  2. Simple and easy way to register and communicate via WhatsApp or Web.
  3. The anonymity of the people while registering.

How we built it

For WhatsApp, we use Twilio messaging APIs and for the web application it is an HTML form built with Flask and Bootstrap. We aggregate the information from these two modalities and find a match based on location and time availability.

We use SQLAlchemy to manage the database of volunteers and client.

Challenges we ran into

  1. Figuring out the Twilio APIs
  2. Managing databases and merging them from two modalities
  3. Trying to keep things simple as possible

As we are not an official business, a volunteer / client needs to send a "magic word" to allow Twilio to send / receive messages freely. It would have been ideal to circumvent this for the following user experiences:

  1. After signing up on the website, you immediately receive a WhatsApp message for onboarding. But this is not possible with our Twilio credentials, which require the user to send the first message.
  2. Signup on WhatsApp without having to send the "magic word". For example, write "hey" and as a response you get the on-boarding steps.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We have a simple solution that can make an impact and connect people in order to help each other.

What we learned

A lot: how to use Twilio, using Bootstrap to design a website, how to setup a database with SQLAlchemy

What's next?

We would like to improve our method to increase anonymity and also provide real-time product availability in supermarkets.

Find out a way to limit requests to the desired population: elderly, those at risk, and hospital and care workers.

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