The Story of an App

One of the things I like best about working with TechSoup for Libraries is our connection to TechSoup, which provides opportunities for me to think beyond libraries and to consider technology in the broader non-profit environment. Last week I attended attend a TechSoup webinar, Developing Mobile Apps from Idea to Launch. The session featured the story of SafeNight, an app for domestic violence service organizations. The webinar was not specifically about libraries and apps, but I found myself considering possibilities for libraries based on what I was learning.

Developing the SafeNight App

Based on their experiences creating SafeNight, the presenters discussed tips, resources, and best practices for other organizations thinking about creating a mobile app.

From developing the initial idea, to the process of developing and launching the app, Anna Jaeger from TechSoup's Caravan Studios and Keith Thode, from Aidmatrix, told the story of creating the SafeNight app for domestic violence service organizations. 

The app enables crowdfunding safe housing for those in need. When an individual is in urgent need of shelter, a qualified staff member at a domestic violence service organization can initiate a request for hotel room funding. Supporters who have downloaded SafeNight will receive a notification that an individual is in need and will have an opportunity to immediately pay for the cost of a hotel room.

Engaging the community is key when developing an app. As the presenters affirmed, "they will come up with things you had not thought of."

Although the team used a waterfall development model for developing the app, Anna suggests that an agile development model would be preferable. It would be more conducive to learning along the way.

More technically experienced individuals found the wireframes used during development useful, but for testing with individuals without technology design experiences, an emulator was really useful.

Learning More

If you are interested in learning more, the archived version of the webinar is worth a listen. Also check out these resources:

Implications for Libraries

Many libraries have focused on making apps available so that smartphone and tablet users are able to access library resources and services. It is also exciting to consider libraries being part of app development that addresses social issues in their communities; issues that could benefit from technological solutions. Whether by hosting or organizing hackathons or finding other ways to foster app development, connecting needs with resources is a natural and traditional role for libraries. We would love to hear about your experiences with hackathons and app development in your libraries and communities! Share here in the comments or email us at techsoupforlibraries (at) techsoupglobal.org.