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cloudThingers take part in Microsoft's PowerApps Hackathon, partnered with the 'Make A Wish Foundation'

Julie WhitingMarch 19th 2019

Three of our talented cloudThingers attended Microsoft's PowerApps Hackathon in London, which was partnered with the 'Make A Wish Foundation'. During the two days, they had to create a solution to one of the current issues within the Foundation's organisation. What did they do and how did they do it? Read on to hear about their experience and the end result!

On Thursday 14th and Friday 15th March, a few of our talented cloudThingers attended Microsoft’s latest hackathon where PowerApps were the main focus of the event. Dan, Matthew and Adil made their way to London and enjoyed a delicious breakfast of pastries and endless coffee (the dream) and were introduced to the Microsoft personnel who were in charge of running the hackathon. Once the presentations by Microsoft had been made, it was time to introduce the organisation around which the event was based- the ‘Make a Wish Foundation’. After they introduced the charity and themselves, the ‘issues’ that they had were raised and posed to the room. Basically, every team in the room (four including our cloudThing team), selected an issue and created a solution for it based around Microsoft’s PowerApps. These propositions were then judged, and a ‘winner’ was selected- but we all know, it’s the taking part that counts...

A quick introduction to the partner- the ‘Make A Wish Foundation’

The ‘Make A Wish Foundation’ was founded in 1986 and its creation was thanks to the inspiring story of a young boy fighting leukaemia in the US. From here onwards, the foundation started going above and beyond to grant the wishes of the children who were fighting critical illnesses, so that the child could experience happiness and joy. Ultimately, they get to live their dream and have all their wish come true. Today, as a result of all the volunteers’ help, the number of wishes granted has increased from four a year, to hundreds per year, which has now made the total number of granted wishes over 12,000.

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“Together, we create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.” - Make A Wish Foundation

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As you can imagine, this has resulted in a vast amount of data being held within the organisation- which led to the four issues that they posed to the groups at the Hackathon: 

1) The foundation was struggling to collect digital assets, like photos etc, and they were finding it hard to hold and analysis it in one place 

2) When a wish came in, they were struggling to communicate to people who wanted to get involved in the local communities who had the skills needed/contacts etc 

3) There were translation issues as a lot of children don’t all speak English and a wish granter can’t always have a translator, or details get lost within the translation sometimes 

4) To find out about wishes, the foundation only has a short amount of time to get a better idea about the child, their background and their wish. They would like an app where children could draw/pin pictures about their wish 

On with the solution making, but first an introduction to the temporary edition to the team...

The honourary cloudThinger for the day, was Benedict Faria, one of Microsoft’s Technology Solutions Professional. Each team had a Microsoft Technology Solution Professional and Benedict helped our team to plan out the design and gave assistance when it came to getting the API up and running. Our CT team enjoyed your input and knowledge, Benedict!

It's what we’re all eager to hear about- our team’s PowerApp

So, a reminder of the problem that they chose to offer a solution for was that the ‘Make A Wish Foundation’ receive many ‘wishes’ into the central office but they find it quite difficult to find local volunteers who can help grant that wish. Our team’s aim was to create an app that allows volunteers to easily find these wishes local to their situation and donate their time, money or resources. So, our cloudThingers created a Canvas App called, ‘Make A Wish Community’. Sounds good, right?! How does it work? Well, the volunteers would download the app and enter in their postcode- this in turn would then ‘filter’ the wishes by highlighting the ones that were within their stated range surrounding them. (This makes it bespoke to the volunteer as it allows them to choose how far they want to travel etc). Our team used Microsoft Flow to call an API which returned the wishes that were in the user’s postcode.  

So, back to the app- the app shows the volunteer a list of wishes within their area and this includes information about the child, their wish, and a list of tasks that are required in order for the wish to be completed/come true. From here, the volunteer has the option to be a wish lead which means that they would be responsible for this wish and its budgets and tasks. Effectively, they would be the team leader, the captain of the team if you will. If you don’t want to/can’t fulfil this large role, there is an option available to just contribute to a specific task- this contribution offer would then be submitted to the wish lead (if assigned- if not there is a person at the foundation called a ‘wish granter’ who would take lead) for their approval and acceptance. In order to make this work, our team used Microsoft Flow to send an email to the wish lead/granter when the volunteer has submitted their information. Communication is key!  

As a volunteer, there are three additional buttons on the app that are available to them: 

1) Donate – Donate money to the wish 

2) Recommend- Recommend the task to someone who they think can help 

3) Volunteer- Volunteer themselves to contribute to the task 

 

As there is a lot of data here, it was all saved and recorded in Dynamics 365 to keep the data organised, safe and up-to-date. Check out the process below!

What did we learn? What were the highlights?

Although there weren’t any ‘sit-down information sessions’, the action of using these PowerApps and learning more about the functions on-the-go was very rewarding and informative to our cloudThingers. It’s like anything, you learn more about it when you have a hands-on approach with it. It was also interesting for our team to see how the other groups worked and what they came up with- everyone thinks differently and so it was good to see new and alternative ways to provide and create solutions. 

Thank you to Microsoft for hosting it and for the 'Make A Wish Foundation' for joining us and making wishes come true for children struggling with critical illnesses.

If you want to find out more about the charity, check out their website- https://www.make-a-wish.org.uk/ , maybe you could help make a wish come true!

If we also inspired you with our work, give us a call- we'd love to help!

© Julie WhitingMarch 19th 2019

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