Tens of thousands of children and young people are homeless and live on the streets in German cities, where they lack access to basic services like food, shelter, and medical care. KARUNA, a Berlin-based nonprofit organization considered establishing a 24-hour hotline for young people to call when they needed help, but staffing costs would have been too high. Since most young people have smartphones, KARUNA decided an online interactive map would provide fast access to information about shelters, free medical care, and counseling services.
Working with Google Cloud Premier Partner Ubilabs, KARUNA created MOKLI, a mobile website built on Google Maps. On their smartphones, young people can choose the type of service they need – such as a shelter or free medical services – and view locations on a map created using their phones’ geolocation service. Users can also get directions to their chosen service. KARUNA and Ubilabs chose Google Maps because of its ease of use for every audience: young people, social workers, and developers. Young people are familiar with Google Maps already, so they didn’t need to learn to use a new tool. Google Maps is also mobile-friendly, which was important to KARUNA because most of their young clients access their service using a smartphone. Social workers can also easily update contact information, hours, and addresses in a Google Sheet and the data updates automatically in Google Maps. In mid-2017, MOKLI is adding an easy-to-use “update data” button for social workers; changes will go directly to KARUNA. If KARUNA social workers think of new and useful features for the MOKLI maps, they can easily add them using Google Maps APIs.
- Young people who might be fearful of contacting parents, teachers or authorities are comfortable using Google Maps — a tool that’s familiar to them — to seek assistance.
- Simple icons, such as beds for shelter and tableware for food, as well as autocomplete functionality of the Places API for location searches, help less-literate young people easily navigate maps.
- Because Google Maps easily integrates with MOKLI’s website, KARUNA didn’t have to hire a professional maps programmer, which would cost between €45,000 and €60,000 per year.
Millions of apps and sites use Google Maps APIs to benefit from a powerful mapping platform. Discover which set of APIs KARUNA and Ubilabs have used to create the MOKLI website:
Displays locations of youth services on local maps
Google Maps Geocoding API
Converts addresses in Google Sheets to place markers on maps
Google Maps Directions API
Shows routes between user’s location and the desired services
Helps users search by city or landmark