COVID-19 has taken the world by storm in the early months of 2020. It's upended families, companies, and economies in a matter of months. This virus will likely have a lasting impact on the way we operate and think about future pandemics — natural or man-made.

Without access to information about the virus, the situation can feel a lot scarier than what reality reflects. It can also be difficult to stay safe and avoid getting sick without the most accurate and up-to-date information. That is why I built Crowdsourcing against COVID-19 during HackTech 2020.

What it does

Crowdsourcing against COVID-19 is a platform that allows users to anonymously post questions related to COVID-19. Then, other users of the platform can submit answers with links to the source information. Users can agree or disagree with answers. Depending on how many users agree with an answer (and the ratio of agree votes to disagree votes), a single answer may be promoted to the accepted answer for all to see.

How I built it

The tech stack for Crowdsourcing against COVID-19 is relatively simple. The front-end is built with React.js and interfaces with Firebase Firestore because of its real-time database capabilities. I was excited to find out that I did not need to build out a backend service for the early stages of this project. Finally, I deployed via surge.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I'm proud of completing this project by myself despite HackTech 2020 being a virtual event. The motivation waxed and waned throughout the event, but I'm proud of what I was able to accomplish.

What I learned

I learned how to integrate database (Google Firebase) interactions directly into frontend code. I started to look into using Algolia for indexed-search, but I ultimately ran out of time and used keyword search built into Firebase. This is more nuanced and not directly technical, but I also discovered how many important product decisions go into building a platform like this — I can more reasonably empathize with the product teams that work on similar platforms.

What's next for Crowdsourcing against COVID-19

I believe that Crowdsourcing against COVID-19 is usable in its current state. However, it could definitely use a few more features, some refinement, and some backend work to make everything more efficient. More specifically, here are a few features that are up next.

  • Introducing the concept of users to track progress, contributions, etc. However, I'm passionate about the platform remaining anonymous.
  • Better search implementation using Algolia or ElasticSearch
  • Creating the "recency" or "best-match" algorithms to surface questions most relevant to specific users

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