Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Jose have just destroyed cities, houses and lives. Accenture made us think about how people that are affected by these disasters are struggling and surviving in these conditions. Even with the help of NGOs and government, the loss of communication (internet, TV, radio) makes it difficult for people to request or give help even though a lot of brave citizens are willing to help each other.
What it does
We provide a single "smart" phone number +1(201)644-4271 that can be called any time. Someone needing help can simply request some resources (eg. "I need 3 beds for tonight"). Meanwhile, people willing to give can also call this same number to give their help (eg. "I want to donate 10 gallons of water"). Our smart matching algorithm finds people that could help each other and create a phone connection between them: they talk to each other. In addition, we're sending an SMS update to the donor to confirm the action and update our inventory.
How we built it
Thanks to the amazing resources of Nexmo, and the help given by their engineers (even by night), we manage to create a link between our phone number and Amazon Lex, the AI-powered bot for parsing and understanding sentences, via an Amazon Lambda function. The results are saved in a Satori stream and retrieved in our React.JS Dashboard so we can follow everything in real time on our web app. In the backend, as soon as a donation matches a need, we use Nexmo to create a conference call between the two users: they both receive a call from ResCall and talk with each other without exposing their numbers. We finally use Nexmo once again to send an automatic SMS to the donor to confirm and update our database.
Challenges we ran into
Connecting all these blocks and building a useful Dashboard were our main tasks. We also encountered issues in connecting Amazon Lex to Nexmo. The time ran fast and we didn't sleep for a second! Staying focus and motivated until the end was challenging!
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud that our improvised team worked so well, we have all learned and discovered great tools under pressure and short timing. Debugging was efficient and communication was great between us. When our first call was instantly showing a result on our Dashboard we were thrilled! Then the automatic phone call between the donor and the victim was the cherry on the top. We were really picturing people in distress using the phone number to save their lives.
What we learned
Nexmo is a powerful tool that was quickly integrated: We learned to use 3 of their features in one night only. Moreover, one of us was unfamiliar with web development but went through ReactJS, CSS and Satori with the help of his teammates and became really efficient. We discovered how to create and run an Amazon Lex Bot in an easy and seamless way.
What's next for ResCall
ResCall could be a real life-saving solution for anyone living a natural disaster. It really has to be developed and augmented by adding the following features:
- integration of geolocation (by asking people)
- optimization of the ressources and the transports
- connection with 911 in case of urgent care
We believe ResCall can have a real impact and save many people by enabling a seamless collaborative rescuing.
Ernesto, Alex & Jonas