Who we are
A group of 5 Data Scientists at Monash University with varying disciplinary knowledge: Chemistry, Mathematics, Psychology, and Astrophysics.
From our Data Science studies, we have encountered so many amazing community mapping projects and council programs working towards the United Nations sustainable development goals. Because of this, we all wanted a way to become connected with and contribute to these endeavours. In our research, we found how many of the reporting techniques that relied on community participation lacked engagement and were often difficult to discover without actively searching.
What it does
This platform aims to give every member of the "Crowd" the ability to give and receive open data on a topic of interest to them. This can range from everyday small-scale community-focused projects such as finding endangered or rare wildlife to larger-scale endeavours such as combating climate change and environmental issues. We also wanted to create a community to hold councils accountable by highlighting locations of poor accessibility for persons with disabilities, lower levels of safety for persons on the street, high levels of noise pollution, and areas of disparity from community environmental goals such as green spaces and sustainable practices.
We aim to align the progress of this platform to be focused on social good, and aim to provide the opportunity for every person to contribute to the success of the UN Sustainable Development goals.
For Crowd organisers, we want the data to be open and accessible, but also validated and reliable. This gives councils, businesses, and individuals the capability to curate Crowd sourced research data. With this capability, the progress of the SGDs can be contributed to by the general public.
In combination, the power lies in the Crowd, and we aimn to utilise this to benefit all cities and communites.
How we built it
A database was set up and the instance is hosted in AWS on a free tier using MySQL. The schema for the database was carefully designed to benefit the speed and reliability of the platform, with scalability and accessibility in mind.
With information being passed from the front to the backend, python connects to the AWS database, reading and writing information in both directions to maintain the markers and crowds in the system.
Challenges we ran into
With minimal experience in web development and cyber security, we came across many hurdles attempting to deploy our solution to a publicly available location.
In designing the infrastructure of our platform, we also found it challenging to define and implement a user interface that really connected with the look of the platform we desired.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are all extremely proud of the infrastructure that we have developed, creating a working frontend, backend, and data store that is all connected and communicates with each other. Given little web development experience, getting this working was a huge success for the team and we are all excited to re-use these skills again.
What we learned
With little web development experience, this was a highlight of our experience designing this platform as we all learned a lot of the infrastructure required to provide a service such as CrowdMap.
What's next for CrowdMap
We want to securely scale CrowdMap to be productive in any location. With this in mind, we want to pivot to a MongoDB instance for a NoSQL approach to provide limitless flexibility to the types and formats of new Crowds.
Additionally, we want to expand and develop the interface of the app to increase the user-friendliness of the platform, encouraging users to engage more with new Crowds. This can be done in user-specific curated discovery pages to connect users to Crowds we think they would like.
And lastly, we want to partner with organisations which rely on research data, to take the burden of data collection off them and encourage our Crowds to contribute to the successful completion and progress of the Sustainable Development Goals.