It’s been a while since our daily life is overwhelmed by Covid-19, otherwise known as coronavirus. Extreme anxiety over the coronavirus makes many people to desperately look for more information about it. They are worried about missing any information would lead to themselves or their family getting the virus.This explains why there are so many messages exchanged on mobile instant messaging apps, why there is a spike in the amount of news content consumed and why websites and mobile apps dealing with Covid -19 are so popular.
Companies rolled up their sleeves, too, to help students who were willing to invest their capabilities for the sake of the public good amid poor conditions. Hyundai Card is one of them. It offered four college students who developed Corona-Nearby – Choi Juwon, Park Jihwan, Lee Inwoo and Kim Juntae – an office for free of charge at Hyundai Card Studio Black, a co-working office run by Hyundai Card. All of the four students attend Korea University in Seoul.
Hyundai Card•Hyundai Capital Newsroom met with Corona-Nearby developers who are about to join Studio Black. They shared their stories from development of the service to what they have gone through until now and also the future they would dream of at Studio Black.
Park Jihwan and Kim Juntae (from left to right), Corona-Nearby developers poise for a camera during their tour of the Hyundai Card headquarters on Feb.17. Choi Juwon and Lee Inwoo were not able to join the tour due to personal business they needed to attend to.
If you have a goal, it’s okay to be a rookie
The four developers met for the first time when they enrolled themselves with “LikeLion,” a nonprofit academy offering programming classes. All of them happened to be non-technical majors. They started learning how to code last year and were taught by their academic club seniors in college to code without taking any particular training courses.
Juwon recollected the day when they first talked about developing the service. “Watching many people trying to share information in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak, we wanted to create a service which can help them out by leveraging what we’ve learned,” he said. They started working on Corona-Nearby right away.
“We thought that people would want to find any confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the neighborhoods where they live and work or near the destination they tried to reach first and foremost,” he said. The four students finished developing their website in just 13 hours after staying up all night and launched it at 7 p.m. on Feb. 1, only a day after testing.
“Staying up all night was not a problem. We were just preoccupied by the idea that it would be great for us to create the service as quickly as possible to be able to share the information that people are looking for.”
The Corona-Nearby service attracted tremendous attention. In two days after its launch, the cumulative number of visitors exceeded 3.9 million. The co-developers said that was when they started feeling increased pressure on maintenance of their website. Its server usage fees, in particular, are charged for the actual usage, which amounted to more than 200 dollars in only a few days since the launch of the service.
Luckily, the LikeLion CEO Lee Duhee offered to pay for the server fees, so they were able to continue stable operation of Corona-Nearby service.
Corona-Nearby allows you to see the places that corona patients have been to and the locations of clinics near you based on where you are.
The trickiest part of the job is to update information fast. “Above all, the number of corona patients is exponentially increasing. It’s extremely difficult to catch up with it because since ‘community spread’ of the virus has started, the government is focusing more on identifying patients earlier and treating them rather than tracking how they got infected.” In fact, the information about the places visited by patients which used to be provided by the KCDC collectively is now available at local authority level. The four developers said, “The way each local authority gets the information organized and posts on their website is all different and the sheer amount of information is huge, so it’s not easy to sort the information out. Now we’re realizing that website maintenance is so much harder than its development.”
Lee Inwoo said that he was in desperate need of the right office over the course of developing the website.
“When we got together to start developing, there was no office for us to stay together,” he said. ”So we had to borrow an office from one of our acquaintances. Although we were able to get most of work done online, offline meeting was crucial for us to tackle various issues particularly given the nature of the service that changed real time.”
Studio Black has a variety of spaces to work and rest at.
Left is Lounge, where tenants may work and mingle, and mingle and right is Blank Room, a resting space.
Now that they have a new office space, the four developers plan to not only maintain Corona-Nearby but also to work on new projects. Studio Black is not just another co-working space but supports fledgling startups grow. Studio Black offers professional consulting services in essential areas including tax, accounting, legal services and many others, on top of providing working, meeting and resting spaces.
Hyundai Card also provides its tenants with the opportunity to work with other startups through Demo Day. It is pushing ahead with “open innovation” to find diverse opportunities to work with Studio Black tenants.
Hyundai Card has applied an artificial intelligence-based scheduling assistant service developed by KonoLabs, one of Studio Black tenants, to its internal network and it is in the middle of test. Studio Black also helps its tenants enter the global market, on the back of its partnership with global seed accelerator Techstars.
Corona-Nearby is not the first service the Korea University students developed. They already developed a food delivery app backed up by a voice recognition technology for the visually challenged last year. Although the service did not launch but it was meant to create a service to contribute to those people in need.
Corona-Nearby was also based on the same idea.
“We want to develop services that can help not only the disabled, but also socially and financially disadvantaged people in our neighborhoods,” Lee said. “As many people have been interested in our website, we will keep up with our work down the road.”