Ping – Flood Disaster Management wins Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Massachusetts’s Seventh District
Rep. Ayanna Pressley has named Tanay Nambiar and Rohan Biju from Boston University Academy as the winners of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Massachusetts’s Seventh District.
When asked what inspired the creation of Ping – Flood Disaster Management, the students said, “We originally come from Kerala, a state at the southern tip of India. Every year, our grandparents, extended family, and friends back at home come across relentless and disastrous flooding during Kerala’s monsoon season (around June to September). These floods are aggravated by climate change, poor communication regarding the opening of dams, and insufficient infrastructure. They result in severe damage to buildings and houses, loss of possessions, mass evacuation, separation of families, and many deaths. Seeing the horrible disasters (and the impacts of those disasters) inflicted upon people that we know motivates us to create this app that can actually be used by the people of Kerala and by any people who live in flood-affected areas.
Flooding, however, is not just an issue of Kerala’s. Its effects are seen all around the world, including the US. In fact, floods are the #1 natural disaster in the United States. These floods cost the country about $2.4 billion on average each year. These floods affect all fifty states. On a more personal level, being hit by a flood can put a family’s life at a standstill. Its impact on a person’s livelihood lasts far beyond the duration of the flood. So, anything that can be done to minimize the disasters caused by floods is of utmost importance.
We noticed that one of the primary influences on the effect of the floods is poor communication between victims and other victims and also between victims, responders, and government officials. In Kerala, communication platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook have allowed the people of inflicted communities to let others know of the location of floods, the existence of resources, etc. However, this becomes problematic upon realizing what happens if a person is not in the right Whatsapp group chats or Facebook groups. Being in that situation can be disastrous if not deadly. That’s where Ping comes in.
We decided that what is needed is an app that collects information provided by people in the floods in one place so that communication is straightforward, clear, and easily accessible.”
The 2021 Congressional App Challenge yielded 2,101 fully functioning apps. After eighteen months of disruptions to educational cadences for students everywhere, the Congressional App Challenge came roaring back with 7,174 students registering for this year’s competition. All told, 340 Members of Congress hosted Congressional App Challenges in their districts across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.
The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, theCoderSchool, Facebook, Replit, Accenture, and others.
The 2022 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2022, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.