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On the first day of the official COVID-19 shutdown in Berlin, I saw a message posted on the front door of my apartment building:
“Hallo Nachbarn! [neighbors in English] As we are now staying at home, I am available to help you with anything you might need: buying groceries, getting medicine, doing laundry etc. Please feel free to call on me."
It seems coronavirus is inspiring generosity in cities around the world, especially those with the highest infection rates like New York and Seattle.
But now, urbanites accustomed to a simple nod in the hallway are offering to fill prescriptions, grab a bag of carrots or even, act as contacts with their neighbors' out-of-town children.
So, how are all these do-gooders finding people to help? Certainly not every elderly or immune-suppressed individual has posted a memo.
In response to the outbreak, free social networking app Nextdoor re-purposed their special events map to function as a specialized “Help Map", which assists the altruistic in finding those who need assistance, and vice versa.
If you're looking for a way to check in on your neighbors, avoid breaking social distancing laws and use an app instead.
Nextdoor already had all of the necessary tools to create their new Help Map.
Working in a similar way but with a few adjustments, Nextdoor's newest feature allows registered real-name users to list their location, contact info and the services they're willing to provide so that neighbors-in-need can call on volunteers in close proximity.
This prevents the aged and those most at risk from heading to the streets and jeopardizing their health.
Although many shops are assigning special early morning hours for elderly and immune-suppressed individuals, the best way for them to remain healthy is to stay at home.
Using the Help Map does more than connect you to your community, it could save someone's life.
Just make sure you leave the groceries at the door; social distancing is still in effect.
Projects include, collections for those who've lost wages and care packages for medical, transit and other essential workers in your neighborhood.
Also of note, the state of Michigan created an interactive map to assist local mutual aid groups find and support others during the epidemic.
While we may be forced to keep 1.5 meters or a six feet gap between us, location-based tools are helping us support each other during what could otherwise be an extremely isolating experience.
And perhaps also help us to remember that this is what community (and technology) is for.
Discover how mapping and location technology from HERE is helping businesses and communities during COVID-19.