At MIT, the free-food and reuse mailing lists frequently provoke frantic races of students to claim free items in the Cambridge area. Inspired by team member Mitchell Gu, who nabbed a free 50" plasma TV off of the reuse mailing list, we created a web application to facilitate effective management of urgent emails, using the MIT free-food and reuse mailing lists as our proof-of-concept.
BeaverDash sends a Yo text notification to subscribing users when an email is sent to the free-food or reuse mailing lists. Users are then directed to the BeaverDash web application, where the urgent email is fetched and parsed into an easy-to-read format via the Gmail API and Ruby on Rails. Walking and biking directions from the user's current location to the location of the free item(s) are displayed on a Google Map with estimated travel times. Using the Uber API, BeaverDash displays the cost and time it would take if the user were to order an UberX to the destination. The deep-linked UberX button allows mobile users to book an UberX to their final destination with a single click.
Furthermore, BeaverDash uses real-time campus wifi usage data from the MIT CSAIL Big Data Initiative to plot the number of people in every area on campus and estimate the number of people who could get to the free item before the user, given their distance from the item, the user's distance, and the time since the original email was sent. Using this metric along with estimated travel time and time since the original email, BeaverDash calculates the chance that the user will indeed be able to get the free item before it is claimed. Lastly, BeaverDash is integrated with the Fitbit API, allowing users with pre-stored sex, weight, and height data in Fitbit access to customized calculations regarding the calories that would be burned in walking or biking to the free items. BeaverDash also allows users to select their choice of running or biking to the destination item and store this choice to their Fitbit activity log with a single click.
Overall, not only is BeaverDash useful to MIT students for finding free items, but the concept is applicable to emergency response situations in that it could allow police and emergency responders to assess/map crises and the locations of other responders in real time via email and mobile devices.
We are honored and humbled to have received the 1st Place Grand Prize at HackMIT 2014 for BeaverDash.