CrisisCamp Boston and developing an app: InnCrisis

Last weekend I attended CrisisCamp Boston organized by the Hurricane Hackers out of the MIT Media Lab. I went primarily to work on the meta-community organizing stuff (as is my custom) but also ended up working on a crisis response app with some really cool peeps.

Before I get to that, a few links.

Many of you know that I use Evernote for absolutely everything.. but this was the first event where I experimented with publishing my personal notes as a means of public engagement. I found this really helpful for both communicating with collaborators as well as keeping my head on straight. My notes:

I ended up on video for this blog post. (I still find it awkward seeing myself on video.)

I was asked to follow up with a blog post on the Hurricane Hackers blog talking about how havingĀ  CrisisCamp events can help build disaster preparedness. I found the Occupy movement’s Occupy Sandy efforts to be especially inspiring, so I used them as a case study.

And now, onto the app!

Last weekend the NYC Office of Emergency Management put in a request for a hotel availability platform to streamline the process of sheltering people displaced by disasters like hurricane Sandy. A bunch of us naturally gravitated toward this project, and off we went!

We encountered a number of challenges (technical, legal, etc) along the way, and a few conceptual shifts.. but we ultimately decided on an app that:

  1. collects donations
  2. searches for hotel room availability with filters such as low cost
  3. enables hotel room booking using donations

We call it InnCrisis. Rather than deploying this app ourselves, we intend for InnCrisis to be a white label application that can be deployed by aid organizations to augment their existing placement efforts for people suddenly in need of shelter.

This app will be made possible by mashing up a few 3rd party API’s:

  • Kinvey as the app’s backbone
  • WePay for collecting donations
  • A hotel search and booking API. We’re currently looking at Cleartrip and Expedia‘s API offerings.

Over the course of the day, we were able to prototype the donation portion of the app. Here’s a video of Ryan Kahn presenting InnCrisis at the end of CrisisCamp Boston.

BlogĀ  post with this video and additional notes at the Hurricane Hackers blog.

Ryan Kahn, Jonathan Wilde and I decided we want to continue working on this project, so we’re getting together today to discuss next steps.

If you’d like to track the progress of InnCrisis development, check out this google doc. And if you’re interested in helping out shoot me a tweet, or just start hacking away out our code on github.

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