What is the problem?

There is a growing interest in enabling communities to cooperate among themselves to solve problems in times of crisis, whether it’s to advertise where supplies are held, offer assistance for collections, or provide other local services like volunteer deliveries. While governments may be rolling out broad programs, cooperation at the local level is usually the most effective way of getting help to where it is most needed. While traditional social media is one way of communicating within a community, this is (by its very design) not locally focused, and often not sufficiently structured to enable rapid discovery of what and where help is needed. With the COVID-19 crisis, we have already seen problems with the local supply of food, equipment, and other supplies.

How can technology help?

Mobile, web, and cloud services enable rapid deployment of applications that can empower cooperation in the community. Watson Assistant is a service on IBM Cloud that allows you to build, train, and deploy conversational interactions into any application, device, or channel. Creating a chatbot using Watson Assistant can help you address the issues that your users can face while trying to gather the necessary information. Embedding location/routing services (like these) can enhance such applications, giving optimum guidance so that they are outside of their isolation location for the minimum amount of time.

The idea

The goal is to provide a mobile application, along with server-side components, that serves as the basis for developers to build out a community cooperation application that addresses local needs for food, equipment, and resources. It would allow both “Suppliers” (such as a store or a community member who has produce they can sell or distribute) to make people aware of what they have; and consumers (“Recipients”) to locate where these supplies are, and, if necessary, guide them to the appropriate locations to pick them up.

The architecture

This solution starter kit combines a chat interface (Watson Assistant), data storage to hold the status of supplies available, and location services with real-time information to get users the information they need.

  1. The Recipient user launches the mobile app and can access information across multiple services.
  2. The Recipient user can ask questions to Watson Assistant and get answers on food/service availability questions.
  3. The Supplier user can post the availability of resources they can provide, as well as locate the items they need.
  4. The Recipient user can obtain geolocation data to plot routes to collect (or drop off) supplies using HERE Location Services.


Create a mobile app to facilitate community collaboration

Learn how to create a mobile application, along with server-side components, that enables developers to build community cooperation apps that address local needs for critical resources like food and equipment.

Estimated time: 20 – 30 minutes