UCLA’s Volunteer Day Live Map

UCLA Volunteer Day's live site

Every year for the past 3 years, UCLA has dedicated a day for community service.  On Volunteer Day, the incoming freshman class embarks to various destinations around Los Angeles to clean, paint, beautify, mentor and engage with the community.

As a technologist in charge of the Volunteer Center website, this day provides an incredible opportunity to utilize social media as a forum to capture the many stories and moments that occur throughout the day.  What other chance does one get to have control over a mass exodus of more than 7000 people all over a city?  How can we build a platform that allows us to capture the stories and deliver them in real time?  How might the volunteers on the ground most effectively submit their stories to a centralized public interface?  The answer was to build an awareness around what we dubbed “The Mobile Campaign“.

The result was a map-based interface that “evolved” throughout the day.  Starting out as an empty map at 7:00am, it gradually populated itself as more and more pictures and videos started flowing in, coming directly from the people on the ground, the volunteers themselves!  While you may not be able to experience the day through its “live” interface, feel free to see the hundreds of photos and video’s that came in from almost 30 different locations:


The technology behind the site was using the following:

  • Google Maps API v3 for the mapping
  • Flickrs API for the photo and video upload and retrieval
  • and lot’s and lot’s of jQuery