Unless families have experienced natural disasters in the past, most are not fully prepared for an emergency. These are stressful and potentially life-threatening situations. Especially for vulnerable families, a crisis can destabilize their lives for years to come. Planning ahead and being prepared makes people more resilient in the face of disasters. That’s why a team of AT&T employees collaborated with the nonprofit SBP, a social impact organization focused on disaster resilience and recovery, to develop the Equip app. With easy-to-use tools, shareable resources and expert advice consolidated in one place, Equip makes it as simple and engaging as possible for families to get ready for a disaster long before it arrives at their doorstep. To be there when communities need us most, we released the Equip app at the onset of the 2021 disaster season.

At AT&T, every employee contributes to our purpose of connecting people to the things that help them thrive. From their everyday work to their spirit of service, our teammates are using their skills and leveraging our company’s resources to take on tough challenges – including disaster preparedness and recovery. To mark the launch of the Equip app, a few of our employees shared their experiences working on the app, and what drives them to want to make a difference.

AT&T Employees Share Their Stories

AT&T has supported SBP since 2018. The collaboration began with a 24-hour volunteer rebuilding project in Houston, marking the 1-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey. The Equip app builds on AT&T and SBP’s commitment to create stronger, more resilient communities – a mission that is close to the hearts of the employees who helped develop the app.

Michael “MJ” Jackson

When his team originally met with SBP to discuss the app, Michael “MJ” Jackson felt it was a great opportunity to engage with community involvement. As senior technical team lead at AT&T, MJ helped to guide the engineering team in building Equip. When asked how connectivity can make the world a better place, he highlighted the importance of “making valuable resources readily available to all.”

His favorite part of his job? “Leveraging technology to help improve the quality of lives.”

Joshua Pane

Technology development program engineer Joshua Pane was away at college when Hurricane Harvey struck his family in Texas in 2017. When lines wentdown, he struggled to contact affected family members. Joshua drew from this experience and put himself in the shoes of a user when developing the Equip app, considering what components would have been useful for his family before, during and after the storm.

“The household functionality of the app excites me,” he shared. “It connects users in the same household to share different resources, supply checklists and emergency contacts.”

The Ponicki Sisters

For Frances, Theresa and Mary Ponicki, the app was a family affair. The three sisters, who work in different functions at AT&T, hosted a designathon with SBP, walking them through the design thinking methodology to kick off the process of building an app that would address real-world needs.

The sisters not only brought their engineering skills to the table, but also interviewed people who’d been affected by disasters to better understand how an app could help others in similar situations. This was a crucial part of the development. As the Ponicki sisters put it: “If we’re not designing for our users, then what are we doing?” 

Lydia San George

Lydia San George, a self-described “passion-based person” and technical business manager at AT&T, jumped on the opportunity to contribute to the Equip project. When a tornado struck Nashville last year, she didn’t know what resources were available to her. Driven to help others in similar circumstances, she drew from this experience to inform the app’s content development.

Lydia shared she is never not looking forward to work, and appreciates the ability to do something she cares about: “Who wouldn’t want to help with an app that helps people?”

Nick Cashiola

Having grown up in Houston, software engineer Nick Cashiola is no stranger to natural disasters. His mother was impacted by Hurricane Harvey, and he has evacuated and boarded up his house “many times!” One of the first projects he was able to support after joining AT&T was to work on the Equip app. Nick loved the opportunity to use his skills to make a difference and learn about technology at the same time.

“[The app] has a lot of power to help people,” he said. “This was absolutely a team effort. I was just happy to be part of it.”

Download Equip in the Apple and Google app stores, and visit the link below to learn more about tech careers at AT&T and how to get involved in future projects to help connect people to the things that help them thrive.

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