Last weekend over 80 professionals participated in Canada’s first #DiasterTech Hackathon. Fourteen teams with people from a range of backgrounds like design, web development, engineering, machine learning, and insurance to name a few, competed over 48 hours to come up with solutions to problems facing disaster responders.
Challenge 1: Create a technology solution that supports better real-time communication to the public advising them of important information during a disaster such as road closures, transit stoppages, flood areas, emergency support services etc.
Challenge 2: Create a technology solution that helps coordinate public volunteer efforts during a disaster. Volunteer activities may include transporting sandbags, providing fresh water and food, offering rooms in their homes etc.
Challenge 3: Create a technology solution that helps the public to better prepare themselves in advance for natural disasters in order to minimize impact to personal property and wellbeing. Preparation may include waterproofing homes, preparing emergency survival kits, securing appropriate insurance, learning first aid etc.
I had the pleasure of working with some great people on team Don’t Panic.
We decided to tackle the third challenge and improve the proportion of Canadians that have a disaster preparedness kit. The idea of a kit is that it can provide the basics for a household to survive a disaster for three days. In the first three days response resources are being mobilized, and people in emergency situations prioritized. You should be prepared to survive three days on your own, before help will come. Yet, no one in our group actually had a kit at home.
Why is this an important problem?
Over the past 10 years, disasters in Canada has increased over 30%. The impact on our urban communities is great because of increased population and aging infrastructure. A good to prepare for these disasters is to have a emergency survival kit.
Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters. Households with disaster kits lessen the load on emergency services enabling them to help the people who need it most. Yet only 9% of households have a disaster preparedness kit.
Pre-made kits can be expensive at over $500 for a family of four. Preparing for disaster isn’t always top of mind for busy families. People may only think about how prepared they are a few times a year; when there’s disaster that catches international attention, or an imminent situation locally which may be too late to prepare for.
Everyone thinks they’re prepared, until they realize they’re not. They need help, they need a Disaster Buddy.
Our Solution: Disaster Buddy
Disaster Buddy sends you notifications to purchase items for your kit when you’re nearby retailers who have the items you need. Buying items as you go about your regular activities will help:
- Remove the barrier that putting together a kit yourself is too much of a pain. It can be done in smaller more manageable parts.
- Save money on a kit by only buying items when they’re on sale.
- Keep preparedness top of mind building kits over time, rather than the set and forget approach.
- Spread awareness on social media as users complete their kits and share progress with friends.