Recent disasters throughout the United States and its surrounding countries inspired our team to develop an app to support those affected by events such as Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria, the wildfires in California, and the Las Vegas shooting incidents.

We aspired to create an app that can bring communities together to support each other in times of need.

What it does

Recover Now connects those affected by disastrous events with other people and communities nearby who have resources to support the affected communities. Through our app, people living in areas near a recent traumatic event can post about extra resources they have such as food, medicine, clothing, or even a place to sleep for the night. Members of communities affected by the events can view these postings and connect with the posters to receive the needed resources.

Additionally, Recover Now facilitates "Recovery Areas" - designated areas for people to gather, receive aid from support organizations, and help one another. Users can "check in" to recovery areas and mark themselves as safe through our app. This feature allows people to come together as one community and ensure friends/family are not left in the dark.

How we built it

Recover Now is composed of two components: our iOS app for iPhones and iPads and our website. Our team developed our iOS app to facilitate the process of connecting people and communities together to share resources. We utilized technologies such as Near Field Communication (NFC) to allow users to check in to recovery areas and AirDrop to easily share discovered resources between devices. In addition to the iOS app, our website allows people discover nearby resources from a desktop computer, view data visualizations about which geographic areas have been most affected, view maps of where recovery areas are located, and view who has checked in to a recovery area. The website and iOS app communicate with each other through our Firebase Database backend to provide one seamless experience.

Challenges we ran into

We encountered quite a few technical difficulties related to multi-threaded processes, efficient data storage, and denormalization of our data. Throughout the weekend we worked as a team to address these concerns and find solutions, or alternatives to avoid the problem.

Additionally, we spent lots of time revising our user experience and design to ensure that our app and website are simple and easy to use, especially for those experiencing a time of crisis. As a team, we aimed to always think like our users and highlight content to better users' experiences within our app and website. We hope that after facing this challenge we have developed a clean and intuitive design to allow people and communities to easily connect with one another.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are extremely proud of the power that our app has gained from leveraging new web-related and iOS technologies. We utilized Near Field Communication to easily "check in" and let loved ones know that you are safe after a disaster. We also implemented AirDrop connections to allow iOS apps to communicate with one another and easily share information. Our website integrates with Google Maps to display a unique heat map visualization of the data posted within our app so our users can better understand where help is needed. Lastly, we connected our website and iOS app through the Safari Keychain and a Firebase Cloud Database to create a seamless experience between the two components.

As a team we also feel accomplished for having designed a very intuitive and fluid user experience. While using our app, people may be distraught or stressed due to the recent traumatic event and we would like to avoid our app adding to the stressors already put on their lives. We aimed to provide a simple experience that anyone can use - whether they are a child attempting to find clean clothing to wear or elderly searching for medications to assist in their recovery.

What we learned

Our team learned about new technologies such as NFC, AirDrop, and Firebase. At the beginning with this hackathon, we were somewhat unfamiliar with these resources and technologies. However, throughout the hackathon we worked as a team to share our knowledge on the subjects and implement these newer technologies across our solution.

What's next for Recover Now

The next step for Recover Now is to bring our service to the public. Our iOS app is ready to be submitted to the App Store and our servers are set up to being handling the requests of those in need throughout the world.

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