According to the Australian Psychological Association, 1 in 4 Australians report feeling lonely at least one day per week. Groups with chaotic schedules are particularly at risk, such as young adults and new parents. But planning meet-ups can be a huge headache for these groups, and navigating complex social media like Facebook is a brain drain for average users. We want to make it simpler for people to get together in the real world.

What it does

Our mobile app simplifies incidental catch-ups. A young mum unexpectedly has an hour to go to the park? She can easily alert her circle of other local mums to get some essential adult interaction. A uni student needs a coffee break on campus during SWOTVAC? One click and his circle of uni mates knows where to get together. No need to scroll through endless text in WhatsApp to find meet up info. Simplicity is the key: one function, minimal clicks. As a web app, it works on all platforms: one app, minimal confusion.

How we built it

We built a mobile-friendly website visible through GitPages using html, css and JavaScript with Google Maps integration to search location information. Individual users and their groups are stored in Google Firebase. When the user clicks on the circle of friends to contact, a Firebase function coded in node.js sends a message via Twilio to let them know where they can go for their micro-dose of human interaction.

Challenges we ran into

Ideally this product would be a mobile app, but we didn't have any Swift experience or Android users in our team— so we created a mobile website instead. This created difficulty integrating between the website buttons and the Firebase database, so we created a custom API in node.js to communicate between the website and Firebase.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Every integration was a learning curve from square one. Our team had limited JavaScript and no node.js experience before the hackathon, which was very challenging. As all Mac and iPhone users, our Java experience counted for very little. We're really proud of how we worked through our idea, as we finalised the team on the day and had planned to work on two entirely different projects.

What we learned

We learned a lot about integration (and what not to do in future!). Next time we'll have a much better idea of what kind of skills we need in the team to create an end-to-end MVP.

What's next for Circles

Geolocation to make sure only users who are close enough (according to their selected mobility) get the alerts. Monetise the app by offering local businesses greater visibility to encourage meet ups at their locations. This will strengthen the community while supporting local businesses.

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