2015 IDCE Hackathon Winners

Second Place: Mondyu Garvoye, Sam Ndiwe, and Marilyn LaForce

When our team started the Hackathon, we had decided to start by creating an App Mission statement. Our objective was to create an app that could be used by Emergency Management personnel in the event of another disaster. This app would have to interact with social media to take full advantage of the benefits of social media.

We realized that social media has become one of the fastest growing ways of getting and sharing real-time information. We decided to use that to our advantage and make that a key feature for our app. We also knew that our app had to address challenges faced by the Emergency Management community. The 3 main challenges are, communication, situational awareness and command and control.

The basic flow of the app would be to download it then login or register. The registration process would allow you to login with Facebook, Twitter, or Gmail. If the user didn’t have any of those, they could create a new account. From there the user could decide to use their current location or pick a location. The user’s input would determine the data that would be made available to them.

For our app to be useful, we had to develop a way to gather and store the information. There would be a database created that would hold all the information and make it accessible. We made use of the data that is already available to the public. Secondly, the app allows users to add information from social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. Allowing users to add their own information meant that we had to develop a system that could ensure the information was as accurate as possible. Websites like https://data.nola.gov/ was ideal because that information was already verified and could be trusted. For user submitted information, we decided to use a system similar to the one used on Ebay. When information from a social media website is given, other users would have the ability to click on either Verify or Nonsense. As more users verified, the information an accuracy rating would be placed on that information. The users would also get a rating based on how accurate the information they provided was proved to be. Users with higher verified percentages would be identified as “Top Users” and could possibly receive some incentive or prize in the future. This encouraged user participation, allowing the information on the app to be more fluid.

The app would also allow for the Emergency Management community to have direct access to the database of information. This information could be updated at a set rate, ensuring that the data was up to date and useful. They would also have access to the user information, allowing them to have more choices when a decision needs to be made for the community.

One final feature of the app was its ability to take categories and either list them or display them on a map. Based on the user location it could tell the closest hospital or pharmacy. Evacuation routes could be displayed on the same map as public transportation routes. We were able to use social media by allowing the users of the app to post current issues. If a certain hotel had vacancies or was running a promotion, users could post that information on their social media site and it would be pulled into the app. Other users would verify it, and the “verified percentage” could increase or decrease based on user interaction.

At the current time, most of these features are still in the developmental stage. During the Hackathon, we were able to get a sample display of the app to work. Our team believes that this app can be used all across the United States. It would keep the community engaged in constant, real-time communication, which is one of the first things lost during a disaster. As our programming abilities increase and technology gets advanced, so will the features of the app. We hope to see this app used not just in time of an emergency, but also for when people need information to help them make decisions on things they need when they travel.

Read more about the 2015 IDCE #DisasterTech Hackathon, and learn about the other winning solution.