We were inspired by other anonymous health reporting tools, such as Let Them Know, Better To Know and STDCheck.org. Currently with the coronavirus there is a lot of people who have discovered they have the disease, and want an anonymous way to tell people they've been in contact with without compromising their privacy, and we thought that it would be really helpful to have a tool that does that.
What it does
The 'COVID-19 Anonymous Notifier' (or COVAN for short) works in 2 simple steps:
- Asks the user for email addresses of the people they want to send a notification to.
- Sends that notification to the requested email addresses.
How we built it
The COVAN is built with a combination of NodeJS for the back-end and HTML and CSS for the front-end. We used NodeJS because we wanted something that was popular and therefore could integrate with a variety of libraries, one of which was Twilio's SendGrid service.
We used SendGrid for multiple reasons. Firstly, it is a popular email API service that is used by tens of thousands of companies. Next, it had intergrations and APIs for NodeJS, which was what we were using to build the program. Lastly, because both members of our team were students, we received a increase to the quota of emails we could send per month which we figured couldn't hurt.
Challenges we ran into
We definitely had issues with the website design. This was one of our first major projects and, due to its nature, we wanted it to be accessible and very easy to use. We used Lighthouse to audit the project until we were satisfied and read up on how to design for screen readers and mobile, so the website is fast and simple.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
As stated, this was one of the first major projects we made. We're really proud of how the website turned out and also of the simplicity of the back-end code. We really hope that this website gets used often so more people can be aware of their risks of catching the coronavirus.
What we learned
- How to intergrate SendGrid's service into our web-apps
- How to design fast and accessible websites
- How to use Devpost
What's next for COVID-19 Anonymous Notifer
We'd really like to integrate SMS messaging into the app. Emails are great, but they may go unchecked for several days and SMS is the tool to use for instant messages. We could do this using Twilio's service but this would require a subscription to their SMS API tool.