The rapid industrialization of our world has its benefits, but it leaves a world of people in developing countries struggling to obtain clean, drinkable water. With many third world countries beginning to use inorganic fertilizers more often, dangerous minerals from the fertilizer cause mineral rich waters to contain algal blooms, causing catastrophic damage to humans and the ecosystem. Toxic algae (Blue-green Algae) is a serious threat to many developing countries which lack proper medicine to treat symptoms of the algae such as: vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and other gastroenteritis symptoms through biomagnification of algae and consumption of the water. Despite not being toxic, common algae blooms are especially dangerous for the environment as the algae blocks sunlight for aquatic plants, resulting in a lack of oxygen in the water. Countless species die due to the oxygen, causing a catastrophic change to the ecosystem. Even without the blooms, the minerals themselves can be devastating to humans at high concentrations. Excess amounts of nitrogen in the form of nitrates can cause blue baby disease (methemoglobinemia) a condition fatal to infants that can result in potential brain damage and death. Excess amounts of phosphorus in the form of phosphate has been noted to cause health problems such as kidney damage and osteoporosis. Because of all the negatives of fertilizer runoff, it is vital that developing countries do not damage their ecosystems and community in the future by preventing them in the present.
We are addressing goals 3, 6, 11, 12, and 14 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
What it does
Our program takes input for our map from two sources: third-party input from farmers, and information from an API called Farm Market iD. To get input from farmers, they are required to register, sign-in, and enter their fertilizer information. Lines will be drawn on the map through Mapbox API which show local users the concentration of minerals in nearby water sources helping users avoid high mineral waters or waters with algal blooms. Our Farm Market iD is then used to locate the farm and its geographical characteristics, allowing us to show contaminated bodies of water near the user. If a farmer, or anyone with an account submits a potential area of contamination, it notifies the government for further inspection. We used the Twilio API to provide text notifications to whichever number desired, so governments and researchers can quickly respond to areas of contamination before eutrophication occurs.
How we built it
Using the Bootstrap framework for front-end and APIs including Mapbox. It is based on the Firebase platform, which has the advantage of hosting databases, and analytics.
Challenges we ran into
Location was overly general, we wanted to cover all major rivers initially, but it was difficult to find accurate documentation that would provide data for that entire scope. In addition, it was difficult finding API’s that could help improve our accuracy and help locate spots of contamination. Moving on, we struggled finding a viable back end system to run our code on. We initially tried Python using Django, but it just wouldn’t not cooperate with us. Rather than learning a new system, we stuck to something we could all work with. Lastly, accurately plotting points on the map was the most difficult thing to deal with. For some reason, not all maps point to the exact same location on the map. So to every coordinate, we had to add and subtract each coordinate by a constant to accurately plot it on the map.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
This was the first hackathon for three of our team members, so there was a learning curve in realizing the amount of work required to develop a web-app in 24 hours. Of course, there is much work required to perfect the app, but we are proud of how far we have come in such a short time duration.
What we learned
-We found that it was more effective to test out our idea on a smaller scope -None of us had prior experience with backend, so a lot of the process was learned along the way -We learned just how important the ideas found in the article https://medium.com/@hackathonmentor/finishing-an-app-a68b26d1a492 were. We started off dreaming big and focusing on features that would be hard to implement, rather than planning out a base product that would work right off the bat.
What's next for Bloomap
Our next step for Bloomap is to gather more data for more locations. For display purposes, our prototype works for a small area inside Nicaragua. Next, we need better authentication for farmers so the data cannot be tampered around with. In addition, we were originally going to add a search bar that allows users to search specific locations more quickly, but we did not have enough data to integrate it for now. If we were to take this to the next level, we would love to collaborate with governments to create incentives for farmers who accurately report their data.