Tag Archives: Mapping a better world

How Infoxchange and Google Maps are empowering Australia’s homeless

Editor's note: This is the fifth in a series of “Mapping a Better World” posts, highlighting organizations using location data to affect positive local and global change. Today’s guest post comes from Diana Brown, Product Manager at Infoxchange, creators of Ask Izzy, a mobile app for Australia’s homeless that connects them with shelter, food and other essential services. The company was founded in a Melbourne garage in 1989.

No one expects to become homeless. For those that do, knowing where to find resources like water, shelter and medical supplies — resources we can’t live without but can take for granted when we have a roof over our head — can be a daily struggle.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy Turnbull speak with a former homeless man who helped consult on Ask Izzy. 

In Australia, 1 in 200 people are homeless, but 80 percent of them have a smartphone. We realized that these smartphones could act as lifeline to basic resources, providing real-time information about nearby services, including services that offer food and shelter. That’s how we came up with the idea for the Ask Izzy app.
With the help of Google Maps APIs, Ask Izzy gives homeless people information about over 350,000 vital nearby services such as shelter, food, needle exchanges, employment resources, technology facilities like Wi-Fi and charging stations, legal and financial advice. The Places API allows us to suggest specific destinations and services based on a user's current location. We can tell a user how far away various services are with the Distance Matrix API and provide transit options with the Directions API.
We work closely with those who have overcome homelessness to understand the specific needs of the homeless population and provide the best access to resources. We also collaborate with the service providers who help meet these specific needs.

None of the benefits provided by Ask Izzy would be possible without our partners, whose cutting-edge technology we depend on every day. We’re thrilled to call Google a partner and we look forward to growing our working relationship and doing more to address the needs of our users.

Charity: water provides clean water and reinvents charity with the help of Google Maps

Editor's note: This is the fourth post in our “Mapping a Better World” series, highlighting organizations using location data to affect positive local and global change. Today’s guest blogger is Alessandra Mosenifar, Senior Product Designer for charity: water. Read how the organization uses Google Maps to share the results of their work providing clean water for millions of people.

Charity: water’s mission is to bring clean drinking water to everyone on the planet. We work towards this mission by funding global partners who understand what’s needed for their specific communities. Our partners around the world have years of experience working with their state and local governments to build sustainable, community-owned water projects. We ensure this information is transparent and accessible so that donors, stakeholders and interested users can see what has been funded and the realized impact.

With Google Maps APIs, we were able to create a new way for donors to view exactly where their dollars go. We also built an easily digestible map packed with details and visuals for the thousands of water projects we've completed. Each project is represented by an icon on the map. When a user clicks the icon the project details appear — including the project completion date, the number of people benefiting from clean water, the implementation partner and the project's precise GPS coordinates.

We use Javascript API to display projects on our completed projects page and on project detail pages. We also use the Geocoding API for reverse geocoding of GPS coordinates to determine the district and village names for each project.

We also recently partnered with Google on a program that allows us to continuously monitor water projects and provide reporting accessible via our website. Using sensors to measure water flow per hour (transmitted weekly), we know if a water point is broken, as well as learn patterns of usage on a daily or yearly basis. Anyone can take a look at project status and details, including the average number of liters of water provided each day.

To date, we’ve funded nearly 20,000 water projects in 24 countries, providing clean water to more than 6 million people. Thanks to Google Maps APIs, donors can see exactly where and how their money is spent. Beyond providing clean water for millions of people, we’re helping transform how charities work by providing the highest degree of transparency about donation impact.

If you're a nonprofit and interested in staying up to date on grants offerings for Google products like Google Maps APIs, apply to join Google for Nonprofits today.