Together with the UK-based non-profit Citizen Sector, we are proud to have sponsored the development of a free website and app that lets people give and get help from their local community in order to stay at home safely during the COVID-19 crisis. We’ve brought together our skills and understanding of community organising and digital tools to help address some of the challenges created by this pandemic. The MVP beta of the application launches April 1, 2020 in select UK communities.
Moving Quickly to Meet Community Needs
“Through WeGotYou, our team has managed to transform existing digital organising tools in the space of a week to help people get help for themselves and their loved ones. The scale of the response calls for innovative digital solutions that get help to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. We are proud to have developed part of the answer.”
-Ned Howey, CEO Tectonica
The coronavirus has caused a drastic and immediate shift in the way our societies work. As a result, it's also created an unprecedented need for people all around the world to increase their use of online tools and in ways that are new for many. With an increasing number of people in isolation because of illness or lockdown orders, we were seeing a demand for online systems that could connect people in need with volunteers who were looking for ways to help their communities, and we wanted to do something to meet this need.
Tectonica is proud of its experience working to advance civic engagement and in helping NGOs use technology to build movements. Our experience in building tools to help communities digitally organise uniquely positioned us to respond to the need to create an app that would connect people in need with volunteers wanting to help. Using most of the functionalities that had already been built for MyActionCenter, we were able to create a hybrid app instead of needing to build a native app from scratch. We used NationBuilder’s functionality that heavily integrates the front end view that a user has with their specific activities and actions on the backend. This allowed us to rapidly take advantage of some of their powerful tools, including:
- Geolocated events have been turned into WeGotYou requests to show volunteers where local needs exist;
- Action Pages have been used to habilitate different functionalities within the app, such as communication channels, volunteer-tracked safety trainings, etc.; and
- Advanced tagging features to optimally personalise the experience of volunteers.
We’re grateful for the support and sponsored use of the NationBuilder platform and their COVID emergency response program, as well as to OneSignal for generously providing 6 months of free use of their amazing push notifications platform. Thanks to these partnerships and the ability to connect NationBuilder segmentation to OneSignal's mobile notifications, we’ve been able to create an incredible tool that optimizes personalized communications that, in turn, motivates volunteers to continue to engage with the app.
The fact that Tectonica’s team is small gives us a certain nimbleness that enables us to quickly build and push out new technologies, something that larger teams often struggle to do. We’re especially lucky to have the invaluable skills of Mariana Spada in design, Fernando Petroli in coding, and Alonso Hernandez in product management, who were able to move incredibly quickly to create this app because they were already experts in the system/foundation that “WeGotYou” was built on. While the normal MVP for an app might take anywhere from one to three months, we were able to build our app in just one week using preexisting software.
Our partners at Citizen Sector were vital to assessing community need and maintaining connections with community aid groups that are currently doing the work of bringing people together, as well as creating content and helping provide vision to guide us in improving user experience. We have yet to see how well the app will perform and if it will ultimately have significant use, but we are optimistic and deeply honoured to have been able to sponsor this project and dedicate significant team resources to develop it quickly.
How it Works
“Being a good citizen has never - in peacetime - been so essential. All around the world, people want to do their bit and relieve some of the burden on the government and charities. WeGotYou helps people be good citizens and neighbours from their phone, supplementing the incredible work already going on in local communities everywhere. If you’d like someone to bring your mum some fresh milk or to come and walk your dog, WeGotYou.”
Kyle Taylor, Founder of Citizen Sector
WeGotYou aims to help reduce the demand for statutory, charitable, or organisational support - and to make it as easy as possible for neighbours to help one another get what they need quickly. The app hopes to supplement and assist the incredible work already going on at the local level, including through mutual aid groups, to get help to those isolating and help volunteering activities scale through the use of digital tools while also acknowledging the most vulnerable are not always online. Crucially, WeGotYou allows people to get help for others, outside their own neighbourhoods, such as a parent living in another part of the country of an elderly neighbour up the road.
- Through the WeGotYou website, users can make requests for help for themselves or someone else, such as collecting shopping and medication or walking the dog.
- Through the WeGotYou app, users will see the requests for help closest to them, allowing them to take immediate action.
Our mission at Tectonica is to use digital organising to improve the world we live in, and on an individual level, we all want to have a part in helping communities and individuals impacted by this crisis. We know that at the end of the day, technology alone will not save us; it’s the people and the communities we form that will. But technology can help us scale relationships and organise so that we can be sure that no one is left behind.