Project Documents & App: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/1H0vg7mzHvCBLHvNXVI_0QDwlkwE591U3
Google Playstore Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.umid
When the whole world is crippling and the responsibility of fighting COVID-19 only lies in the hands of few individuals/authorities, we wanted to pass on this responsibility in the hands of the common public to collaborate & help each other. We really wanted to increase community engagement and social quotient to let people step up and fight for each other.
Problem you are solving?
Centralization: Does responsibility of fighting Corona only lie in the hands of few individuals. Emergency Spotting: Can we spot emergencies near-by to our location and help the needy?
- Food & Supplies Distribution: Is there a way that we can optimize how the resources/food are being distributed to the needy, or can we assist organizations/ NGOs with real-time needs of public?
- Mental Wellbeing: Human beings are social animals and owing self-isolation aanxiety levels are on the rise.
The solution you bring to the table
Decentralization: UMID being a Peer-to-Peer platform, can enable users to act on the near-by emergencies and provide necessary help. Emergency Spotting: Any user can raise an emergency by using SOS button and filling up necessary details like category (food, medicine, emotional support). All nearby users will be notified of this emergency as soon as the needy user submit his/her details • Food & Supplies Distribution: Users can see areas/places where the demand for items/food is coming from, entities like NGOs or restaurants can optimize their resource distribution process, thereby balancing the demand & supply curve. • Mental Wellbeing: UMID lets its users to chat anonymously to people nearby, thereby avoiding fear of being judged.
What it does
It's a Peer-to-Peer platform where users can collaborate and connect to the people around them to help each other in emergency - food/supplies, mental health & other ad-hoc support.
We are enabling each & every individual to make a difference, a user can spot emergencies in nearby areas with exact location & people can coordinate for food/supplies, any ad-hoc help or emotional support (this issue has been least addressed during the COVID-19 scenarios) with the other users around. Users can also coordinate with nearest Kirana/Medical stores to order items for them to be delivered at your doorstep or coordinate with the shop owner to assign a designated time for pickup.
What’s in for the public? UMID enables people to chat by clicking on an emergency to coordinate for more details; it also lets users to chat anonymously for emotional support, you would be talking to a stranger without fear of being judged. We are also enabling users to talk anonymously to their peers globally, this feature could help us talk to few people and l lighten our mood if someone is feeling low.
What’s in for the authorities/entities like NGOs? We are helping people to optimize the resource distribution process, entities like NGOs can track where the demand of food/supplies is coming from, thereby balancing the demand/supply curve.
What’s in for shopkeepers? We are encouraging people to support these small entities to order items through our chat, to be delivered at their door step or decide a predefined time for pickup from the shop, thereby avoiding overcrowding and reduce waiting time in lines.
How I built it
3 people including me started our journey to make a platform that would run on the principles of decentralization, community engagement and collaboration to enable people to help each other. We started to brainstorm on the ideas of web vs mobile and considering the real life scenarios and ease of using mobile, mobile won.
One thing that was clear from day 1 was that we would be putting equal weightage on user flow, his/her psych and actions & app designs as we would put on building the app architecture.
We started to develop this app on react native but considering the tight timeline and our office commitment, we thought of on boarding a few people, who would work in tandem to develop and design the app. We also started parallel work on our website for us to be able to market the idea (considering google play store and apple store are taking time to approve a new app these days).
We are using GCP suite, firebase as a DB, Google API to tag your location and identifying people near to you, google API to get the shops/stores data, React Native Gifted chat for 1-1 & many-many chat option & D7 sms service for OTP authentication. We are also enabling user to login through FB & gmail directly into the app.
We have create a static website for marketing and are working on creating a dynamic website to replicate apps functionality, will be ready in next 2 days.
Challenges I ran into
- Juggling between office hours and working on this initiative (that too initially juggling different hats of programming, designing & social outreach) after 10 hours of office work we are banging our hands on this novel idea to bring people together in these difficult times gets us going.
- Considering the current situation, we were very clear to not spend money on product development, convincing people to join the team with just an idea was again a challenge, but as people were on boarded this idea turned into a vision and now i can proudly say that we have a team of 13 with varied experience in programming, machine learning/AI, design, graphics, content & digital marketing.
- User acquisition is still a challenge as we are still figuring out on how to position this app so people make it a habit of using this to address the problems we are trying to solve.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
In spite of these challenges we have been able to develop a native mobile app and a website within just 2 weeks, we have been able to successfully onboard 50 beta testers for their feedback on functional and user flow components of the app. We have also been able to on board 200 users including few NGOs.
We have launched "I want to volunteer" program to onboard people to join us for mass outreach. We have been able to gather around ~200 requests from different areas for people to help in these difficult times.
What I learned
When you start something with uncertainty, vision is the only thing that keeps you going and also lets other people follow you to make it a reality, irrespective of your background or expertise, clear vision can help you traverse the route.
Ideas are never important, the way you execute them is what makes a difference. We have been fortunate enough to have a dedicated team of passionate individuals who really wanted to make a difference.
What's next for UMID - Collaborate & Help
We have launched the app & targeting people from organizations (working professionals) and universities. Considering the demographics of these people we could expect a flat product adoption curve, and these people could be the flag bearer of bringing this new concept to their close associations.
We would also be focusing on expanding the team to include more developers, BD & branding people for us to reduce the go to market time for new versions, and would seek help from mentors to position & brand this product to make it widely accessible to common public.
We are also working on building an AI based chat that gives solutions to your problems, post current crises our plan is to include this AI bot along with clinical approved psychologists to help users overcome anxiety help them overcome any challenges related to mental health.
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