JUST US

A live-streaming app for voice-controlled emergency alerts

JUST US is a mobile app designed to help protect people that might encounter police brutality or racially motivated violence — particularly those in the black and brown community. By leveraging hands-free voice control, users in an emergency situation can alert designated contacts and stream live video of an incident. The app can be used while out and also while driving.

JUST US - photo 1

About the Client_ 

The client is a California-based socially-conscious startup focused on community activism against racial violence. Created by a clinical psychologist without any tech expertise, the company aims to help keep people safe while they’re outside their home. 

The Client’s Challenge_

The client came to us with a finalized presentation, product video, and a partial design. After we had broken down the design, a thorough product analysis showed the following challenges:

  • Not all of the client’s functional requirements were supported in iOS. The final product had to be an optimum solution within these technical constraints.
  • Hands-free voice commands, a core app feature, were the second critical challenge. The Android version didn’t support the necessary functionality, and subsequently, Android development had to be postponed.
  • Streaming stability was another critical technical challenge. The streaming API, MUX, wasn’t entirely stable when integration commenced. So, we had to solve latency and stability issues as it turned out we were one of MUX’s first mobile-only clients.

Our Solution_

We began with a six-week discovery phase that included prototyping and project planning. Given the Android limitations mentioned above, it was agreed to develop the iOS app first. The app would be designed to support all iOS versions, beginning from iOS 12 (at the time, iOS 13 adoption was over 70%). Thus, we assembled a team consisting of a full-time iOS developer, part-time backend engineer, part-time QA engineer, and part-time product manager. 

For the frontend, we used Swift, and the backend was designed in a way that would allow it to be shared with the Android app later. This not only made development easier but also allowed users to receive push notifications, regardless of the platform they were on.

To implement advanced features like live streaming on the backend, we used Python, Google Cloud Platform, and various Firebase (a BAAS platform) solutions. The Firebase solutions were used to speed up development and save costs without affecting product quality. These solutions included: 

  • Firebase Authentication
  • The Cloud Firestore
  • Firebase Cloud Messaging
  • Firebase Cloud Functions
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The Firebase services enabled peer access to the user information upon notification. Another benefit of storing all data on the server is that data can be retained when the app is reinstalled, a device is upgraded, or a user logs in again.

The final delivery had an app with three voice-activated safety commands: 

  • “Check-In”: sends a custom message with the user’s GPS location to five designated contacts (those who can help) to assure them the user is safe.
  • “Heads Up”: initiates a live stream to MUX (with a re-stream or a link posted to Facebook on their behalf) when the user is pulled over by the police. The notified contacts can see both the user’s location and their live stream. 
  • “Help”: is used when a user’s concerns are heightened. The designated contacts and everyone nearby are alerted via push notifications. They can see the user’s location and live stream.

Besides, using this app, a user can sіgn up/log in with a phone number, add profile information (name, photo, and a check-in message), add up to five designated contacts, and invite contacts to join the app via SMS.

Postindustria supported the client throughout the entire development process, from product discovery to release on the App Store.

The Results_

The client was satisfied with the quality, speed, overall workflow, and management of the project. We delivered on schedule and saved the client almost $3,500 from their original budget. 

We’re currently discussing the feasibility of an Android app version, as Android now supports all the required features.

Postindustria is proud to support social initiatives that make the world a safer and better place for all of us. If you have an idea for a social interaction app, we have the smartest tech and product minds to help you bring your project to life. 

If you want to know more, here you can find our full PDF version of this success story

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