As the crisis hit around the world I found myself really needing to find answers and help people with their fears and concerns. This lead to a lot of research where I noticed that the countries most successful in combating the spread of the virus were using technology as a major part of their strategy. I knew in the US we would not force people to allow tracking so I thought maybe a social media style app that rewards people for "checking in" and "updating their status" regularly could be a good solution. I made the app a crowdsourced information app so that the public and decision makers alike would have access to very useful information that could inform better decision making faster, because it doesn't require the overwhelmed medical comunity to keep up with reporting. I also felt that adding a gamification and messaging feature would increase adaption and longevity with users so we have added those app style features.
What it does
The primary feature is an interactive map that displays user supplied data about health status and needs. You share your current status with the app, you get access to an anonymized interactive map featuring all other users statuses. We've also included a feature where you can identify yourself as in need of assistance so that local communities can connect with their most at risk citizens more effectively. It also gamifies healthy decision making rewarding achievements to people who repeatedly check in from the same location, regularly update status, invite other users to add to the data pool, and help people in need. Finally it provides a community chat feature so that you can connect with other concerned people in your area even when other channels have limited communications.
How I built it
This app is currently a progressive web app built on the AWS framework. We are prepared to launch IOS and Android versions as well if we find the right partner to make that possible given the current limitations on publishing Covid related apps.
Challenges I ran into
Covid related apps are not allowed in app stores unless you are a government agency or healthcare facility right now so that is not currently an option for us. However, we feel the flexibility of a progressive web app is actually better because it helps eliminate some of the technology based age and income gaps since it can be used on any device and accessed from anywhere with an internet signal. Other than working normal bugs out across various devices and browsers beta testing has not shown any major challenges to date.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
our team pulled this off extremely quickly from idea to valid application, fast enough that with the right support it could really make a difference. I'm also proud that we were able to do this while keeping costs under control enough that funding has not been an issue yet.
What I learned
simple solutions are often the best. Keeping this simple yet effective and building on existing platrorms allowed us to quickly create a viable solution that is also completely expandable to meet all future needs of partner organizations as well as future health crises. A tool like this could be a real game changer as a data aggregator, early warning system, and tool for the average citizen to make smarter decisions under any health crises the world faces.
What's next for InPlace App
We are working to get through beta testing as rapidly as possible while also finding the ideal launch partner that can support the funding and social proof required to effectively launch an application like this. We are also really excited about the potential this app has to really help every day citizens and decision makers alike.
Try It out
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