Inspiration

Amazon Alexa and similar devices are becoming more and more common in modern households. By connecting legislators and citizens directly with these devices, we hope to increase digital advocacy and bring greater accessibility for political activities to adults and young adults in a streamlined manner.

What it does

With AlexaGov, you can tell Alexa to call, email, or text your legislator on issues that matter to you. It will also inform you about certain legislators' policies on those topics. In addition, it will further streamline processes for your legislator to make it easier to see what problems his citizens are most concerned about and for him to get back to them faster. We hope that through the Alexa, similar ideas can be grouped, reducing the need for the same idea to be voiced about through multiple calls.

How we built it

Using Lambda as part of Amazon Web Services, we integrated a customized Alexa Skill Set dedicated to finding a legislator to our Echo Dot. The Skill Set utilizes natural language APIs as well as the Phone2Action API for finding a legislator based on the address.

Challenges we ran into

We ran into some trouble originally setting up the Lambda account because we weren't able to connect specifically to our skill set and for the input from the Alexa to reach the Lambda function. We also experienced some trouble connecting the Amazon Echo Dot to the WiFi, which led to us being unable to test the Dot as thoroughly as we wanted. In addition, we learned the JavaScript required to code in the index file, resulting in a few mishaps as we tried to understand our files better.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We're proud that we had managed to connect the Lambda function to the Alexa and have the Alexa respond to our queries on finding a legislator nearby. We're also proud of our original planning of the project and how that allowed us to easily follow the thread of how our project should work.

What we learned

Through HackTj 6.0 and our project, we learned to continue to persevere to complete our projects. Many times, we would be nervous to add more code to the main frame because we were worried it would mess up the methods we had working right now, but it generally ended up making our code much stronger and more efficient. We also learned a lot about learning to code a new language and how to further troubleshoot our data in an unfamiliar environment.

What's next for AlexaGov?

We hope to connect the real-life legislators and try to pitch this to the market. We also hope that we can generate certain political topics the user might be interested in based on what further things they view in the future.

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