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The App for Campus and Local News: Wildfire

With so many social media apps to keep track of, there is one that students, and non-students,  should know about if they are looking for news that directly impacts their community: Wildfire. 

The app was created by a group of four University of California, Berkeley alumni. Hriday Kemburu is the founder and CEO, Vinay Ramesh is the Business Lead, and Jay Patel and Tim Hyon are Technology Leads. 

Kemburu came up with Wildfire in 2015 when he was almost mugged outside of UC Berkeley’s library. He posted a warning on Facebook, but he wanted to reach students outside of his friend group, according to his interview with The California Aggie. 

“[I] made a Facebook post to warn students, which got hundreds of views, but quickly realized that Berkeley has thousands of students who either weren’t friends with me on social media or scrolling through their newsfeed at that moment,” Kemburu told The California Aggie. “We built Wildfire as a much more effective way to communicate with the people right around you in real-time.”

Together with his friends, they created Wildfire. While it’s really convenient for school campuses, you do not need to be a student to use the app. 

When you download the app it will ask you: 

  1. Your age 
  2. Your .edu email if you’re a student. “Not in College?” option for non-students
  3. Your graduation date 
  4. Your first and last name 
  5. Your pronouns 
  6. Turn on your notifications and location 
  7. Your phone number 
  8. Asks you for make a username and add a photo 

Once you are in the app, it offers four features: Home, Directory, Alerts, Activity, and Profile 

Home: Similarly to a Twitter feed, it asks you “What’s on your mind?” 

You will see posts from other users in your school or area reporting small personal incidents and an occasional “How’s everyone doing?”

There is also a search bar where you can search for different categories: Chatter, Safety, Coronavirus, Events, Tips, Campus Crush. Student Problems, Buy/Sell, and Memes. 

Next to the search icon,  you will see a “Rewards” option where you can unlock emojis, your school icon, and wildfire stickers. There’s a “Leaderboard” where you can see the users with the most rewards. 

Directory: Shows you profiles from your school/area displaying their username, photo, and major. You can click on their profile and see when they joined and their graduating class, in addition to their posts, replies, “upvotes,” and the ability to message them. 

Since COVID-19 impacted our lives, the Directory tab has changed to “Coronavirus” and shows you local and national news relating to the coronavirus. Wildfire says in their FAQ they added the option because, “community can be a great source of support and our mission is to help foster that.” They assure they only post news that has been certified by the CDC or WHO. 

Alerts: Here you can see all the alerts that are sent out to your school/area by other users. There is a settings option where you can customize your notifications for Alerts. There is Chatter, Safety, Coronavirus, Events, Tips, Campus Crush. Student Problems, Buy/Sell, and Memes. 

Activity: You view all of the activity, such as likes and comments, from your posts here. 

Profile: Views the same way as the directory, but this is your information. You can see when you joined, school’s name, major, graduating class, dorm number, hometown, and bio. You can see your posts, replies and upvotes. You can learn about Wildfire, send feedback, report a bug, become a campus rep, read the community guidelines, and delete your account in settings. You can also view private messages in this tab. 

Wildfire has a similar look to Twitter, but it allows you to interact with a smaller group of people depending on your location. This app can become your go-to app for any news impacting your local community, and with the new Coronavirus feature, it will help users stay more up to date. 

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