Why did we build a conference app?

Our newest app, uncwaterandhealth.mwater.co

I love good conferences, but as a startup we can only attend a few each year so we need to get a lot out of them. One conference I never miss is UNC Water and Health. Last year, my startup mWater made #FakeWaSH, a fun game that tried to build the online community for the conference. It was great! We got over 4,000 viewers of our platform directly from the game. We approached this week asking how to one-up that experience?

This year, we wanted to go deeper. When I attend a conference, I approach it like a fantasy football player might approach a season. I plan sessions by likely and probable attendance and I organize my timeline in advance so I know where to set meetings. This year, mWater contributed to the conference by making an app designed so that everyone can play this game at their full potential. We want to make UNC Water and Health into the full featured, contact sport that makes great conferences into catalytic events.

This conference brings together a diverse audience with equal portions of researchers, practitioners, and policy makers. It is 5 days of non-stop technical sessions, meetings, and an online conversation in tweets that lives on long after the conference’s last day closes. Yet, since big conferences always have so many parallel sessions, it can be hard to maximize your time and not miss something important. And even the best plans need some room for serendipity—there are many times when I bailed out of an unexpectedly dull session and ended up finding someone I really needed to meet.

You can start using our app now to plan your Water and Health week. Just go to uncwaterandhealth.mWater.Co

The basic features are:

  • Schedule page to see all the sessions, organized by day and time; make your own schedule by simply clicking on Yes or Maybe under a session
  • Now page where you can see your plan and the alternative options
  • Session pages have unique URLs for facebook, twitter and sharing with friends. Each session has its own twitter feed.

This app was designed using mWater technology under the covers. The user interface was based on my own experience in planning for big conferences. For each hour, I like to have a plan, but also some alternatives in case my planned session isn’t what I had expected. The fact of the matter is that every session is in competition for our most limited resource, time. We hope the end result is an even better experience at UNC this year, thanks to the integration of technology.