Person8 helps homeless youth restore and maintain their identity.

There are 8000 homeless individuals just in San Francisco, the second highest homeless density in the United States. A growing number of them are youth: One in ten young people in America experience some form of homelessness in the course of a year. Most have a mobile phone, typically being their primary computer device.

It is an anomaly to find a homeless person who has all their identity documents. To get them properly connected to homeless services, they need their birth certificates, social security cards, health insurance records, and other documents. Many homeless people don’t have those documents.

Solution

Person8 provides a digital footprint for homeless people that can’t be deleted, lost or stolen. It keeps a copy of their identity documents and other key information, hosted securely online so a missing phone won't become a crisis. The homeless will have access to their own records and have control over who can see it.

For homeless without a mobile device, their identity profile will also be accessible online, through for example public computers like those found at the libraries. A homeless service worker approaching someone on the street will be able to find their identity records without having to bring them into an office and locate a physical file folder.

Person8 hosted identity information is incorruptible and easy to access, stored in the cloud. Instead of paper identification documents, personal records can be encrypted and digitized. In addition to being securely stored, identity records would also be verifiable, activated by homeless individuals on mobile phones sharable via Twilio SMS.

Implementation with MongoDB Stitch and Atlas

Person8 is implemented as a serverless React based SPA in Clojure targeting Javascript (ClojureScript). We used MongoDB Stitch and Atlas cloud, with Twilio as a Stitch service, and db.watch change streams to make the app fluently reflect the database, a great complement to React.

The application applies mobile-first Material Design but is responsive to also provide a decent experience on any size computer display.

main view

Compass Plug-In

We developed a ImageViewer Compass plug-in to inspect documentation images stored in the database. The plug-in adds a tab to the Compass user interface with a pane showing all images in a collection:

Compass plug-in

To aid in development of such Compass plug-ins, we created a Dockerfile that provides all dependencies for building and compiling Compass plug-ins, including Khaos.

What's Next for Person8

We hope to raise funds for future development and set up a team at the San Francisco brigade of Code for America. We’d like to co-create the app in participation with homeless youth, with the side effect of introducing them to product development, which may open up further opportunities and inspire them to a path forward.

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