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23 March, 2020

Crowdsourced Infomap Helps Idaho Communities Prepare For Coronavirus

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Accurate, timely information is valuable - especially while you're preparing for a pandemic. Which stores have supplies you need? Which facilities open? Which offices are open at different times? How do you find this information when people are working from home and the situation is fast changing? Crowdsourcing. Collect information from people who know what's happening locally and share that for the social good. Think of it as a public oriented WAZE, YELP or TripAdvisor where people share info that could help others as well. Idaho Covid 19 Mutual Aid (ICMA) group has rolled out a system that uses information collected from community residents through an online form. These details are reviewed and then shared through a free mobile app. This system was developed in three days using mostly free software with a little help from DemLabs. ICMA plans to make the solution available freely to other communities outside Idaho as well. Background Idaho Covid 19 Mutual Aid Group is a volunteer community group with almost 15,000 members that helps neighbors during the Covid 19 epidemic. The public health and economic ripples are harder to absorb for many of our citizens, homeless, low-income, service workers, sick, those living with disabilities, elderly, undocumented citizens just to name a few. How it works The system is was designed for simplicity as it was going to be used a team of volunteers. We used Google Forms to design a form by which residents reported on the situation in their community. This info was collected in a Google Sheet where volunteers screened the submissions and made sure that the most current information was being shown. The volunteers also tagged stores and facilities with their coordinates (latitude & longitude). The approved information is used to generate an interactive mapping app with ArcGIS. (Recognition to Julia Bayer and Robby Deming, esri experts who helped with this project). Form A Google Form was designed which collected information on: 1. Supply levels for different products at stores 2. Companies, offices, restaurants which had or were scheduled to be closed. 3. Information on symptoms and tests that had been conducted People can opt to provide their contact information though that is not displayed on the map. Spreadsheet
All the submissions are first collected here where a team of volunteers screen them to make sure that the most current updates are shared. Volunteers also find and tag stores with their coordinates (latitude/longitude). This information is need to create the map.
App An app was created with ArcGIS and designed to refresh automatically as new information was entered into the Google Sheet and approved for display. It includes: 1. See stock levels at different stores and businesses that were closed before planning a trip, 2. Self-reported symptoms and test results from community residents 3. The map also has details on how to submit information 4. Info Block to learn more about the Idaho Covid 19 Mutual Aid Group 5. Location finder - For volunteers to find the coordinates of a store
Take Away Time is of the essence and volunteer energy is precious. Use free/affordable apps that lets you do more if less time. Contact us for help with a challenge that could also help other civic minded, progressive groups. Deepak Co-Founder, DemLabs
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