From the ashes of an old Google product called App Inventor, researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, along with the Qatar Computing Research Institute, have engineered no-code app-building software that could change the way we respond to natural disasters.
The Android-based set of software tools are designed for non-programmers, helping aid workers and civilians with no coding experience create apps on the fly in the wake of an emergency. The tools feature a drag-and-drop system and plain-language search to quickly aggregate and crowdsource information, creating an ad hoc database of nearby shelters and basic human resources in a community.
The app builder’s easy-to-build and use resource-distribution framework stems from App Inventor, a Google brainchild designed to help any user to code. Google nixed the project in 2011, but MIT picked it up and turned it into an open-source platform. From that, first responders may have an entirely new way of disseminating information and organizing relief in response to a natural disaster.
Incidentally, Google recently released a similar app builder called Google Web Designer, though its less altruistic goal is creating interactive HTML5-based ads and websites. The root idea is the same though, giving anyone and everyone the capability to create applications.