An open source app developed by volunteers in China has connected hundreds of medical workers and hotels, to help provide accommodation to those fighting COVID-19 on the front lines. Now, it could be used globally.
The City Together Medical Worker and Hotel Accommodation Platform (日月同城医护酒店公寓平台) was launched in February, when the coronavirus outbreak was at its peak in Wuhan. The app pairs hospital staff with hotels, helping medical workers to find free or heavily discounted accommodation – rooms are capped at RMB100 (US$14) per night.
City Together enables frontline medical workers to find accommodation close to the hospital where they’re working. This saves them potentially long or difficult travel from their home to the hospital, giving them more time to rest, and avoiding the risk of exposing their families to the virus.
With no bookings during the peak of the crisis, the platform also enables hotels to join the fight against coronavirus and give back to the local community.
On January 24, as Hubei Province went into lockdown, Xiao Yaxing, a young woman who runs three hotels in Wuhan, started a WeChat group called the Wuhan Hotel-Apartment Volunteer Alliance. The group was joined by the Fliggy Wuhan accommodation team, hotels, and apartment owners, and Chinese travel media TravelDaily, who all came together to call on the hotels of Wuhan to provide free accommodation for front-line medical staff and volunteers in major hospitals.
The Alliance then came up with the idea of an online platform to facilitate linking medical staff with accommodation providers, and approached developers, including those from the Dragon Trail Interactive team, to build it.
After opening the app, users choose to set up a profile either as an accommodation provider or as a medical worker. Accommodation providers – members of the Wuhan Hotel-Apartment Volunteer Alliance – fill in their details, then check requests from medical workers, and confirm bookings. Medical workers create a profile, search for hotels in the area, and then submit a request for accommodation. Watch the demo videos below to get a closer look at how the platform works for both sides.
Watch the demo video above to see how the app works for hotel staff (Youtube)
Watch the demo video above to see how the app works for hotel staff (Tencent)
Watch the demo video above to see how the app works for medical workers (Youtube)
Watch the demo video above to see how the app works for medical workers (Tencent)
News of the Wuhan Hotel-Apartment Volunteer Alliance was published by many Chinese media, helping to bring attention to the project. Additionally, Alliance members publicized the launch of the City Together platform via numerous WeChat groups for medical workers in Wuhan. In total, the app has been used by more than 300 medical staff and 170 hotels.
With Wuhan recovering from the crisis and ending its two-month lockdown, the city at the heart of China’s COVID-19 epidemic will no longer need the City Together platform, and it will soon be shut down. Now, the app’s potential is overseas, with countries on every continent facing their own battle against the novel coronavirus.
Watch an interview with Dragon Trail’s Chief Technology Officer Paris Wang, one of the developers of the City Together app (Youtube)
Watch an interview with Dragon Trail’s Chief Technology Officer Paris Wang, one of the developers of the City Together app (Tencent)
The City Together source code is available free of charge to anyone who wants to establish the platform, anywhere in the world. Dragon Trail Interactive is also willing to offer free assistance, including translation services, to establish a similar platform for any global destination. To find out more, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The tourism and hospitality industries have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but we should be thinking not just of our losses this time, but also of what we can contribute to the fight against the virus in our own communities.