Judging Category: Best Social Impact
Sponsor Category: Phone2Action
Many of us are very interested in politics; however, considering our busy schedules, we do not have time to read through every bill proposed on the Congress floor. As a result, we often rely on news sources, such as the Washington Post or CNN to tell us whenever a contested bill comes up in Congress. The problem with this is that we only hear about legislation that these news sources deem important, and no matter how credible the source, there will always be implicit biases present in their reporting. What if instead of depending on the daily news, we could get quick summaries on highly contested legislation our legislators are voting on. What if instead of depending on these news sites, we could instead get a quick summary every day of highly contested bills on political issues we care about as well as how our local legislators voted for that bill? Based on that, we could contact our legislators and inform them about our opinions on that vote. That is where Looped In keeps us in the loop.
## What It Does and How We Built It
Signing up for Looped In is very easy. Visiting our website gives two options: sign up or log in. Signing up will require you to enter your zip code and state. Then, it will present legislators from your area. Afterward, it will ask you what political issues you care most about as a voter/citizen. Finally, it creates a dashboard of all of the data for visualization, with a Twitter feed from your legislators. This secure authentication technology is built using Python 3 and Django. However, the backend of LoopedIn is built with Express.js. This backend makes the necessary requests to the ProPublica API and Phone2Action API. The backend will also store all of the user's data in a secure No SQL database, using Google Firebase. This is all a quick an automated process for the user. Now, when the user wants, he/she can ask the Google Home in his/her house, "Hey Goole, keep me in the loop." The Google Home will respond with information about highly contested bills on the Congress floor and summaries. These bills will only be regarding the topics you showed interest in during the sign-up process. It will tell you what action your legislators are likely to take and ask whether you would like to contact them to ask them to change their mind. This will ask you for input and send an email/tweet to the legislator expressing what you said. The beauty of this system is that as you change your views politically, logging into the website allows you to change topics you care about. If you move, you can change your state and zip code. It is a dynamic system.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
The most difficult task we were able to complete was the use of the dynamic Express.js backend alongside the Google DialogFlow script to make an interactive tool, allowing for easier communication. This was difficult, as the Google DialogFlow used some proprietary technology, making it more difficult to test smaller components.
What we learned
We learned how to use REST APIs to get data. We also endeavored into machine learning to produce abstractive summaries of the bills presented on the Congress floor; while we were unsuccessful in this portion of the project, we did learn the basics of using TensorFlow and Keras. We also learned how to integrate multiple servers into one project.
Express.js, Django, Google Firebase, Google DialogFlow, Phone2Action API, ProPublica API