With COVID-19 forcing people to remain at home and social distance, boredom is affecting many individuals. Unfortunately, this is having a terrible impact on people’s mental health, with some mental health lines such as Alberta’s receiving 300% more calls each day. With mental health services struggling to keep up with the increased demand, many individuals are not getting the treatment they need.

To combat this issue, Dis-COVID was created to eliminate one of the causes of mental illness – boredom.

What it does

Dis-COVID provides users with a supportive community where they can discover new hobbies and pursue what they love. On the web application, users can search for a variety of hobbies (such as baking, coding, etc.) to discover the other ways that members of the Dis-COVID community have been spending their time. Using the accomplishments of others as inspiration, users can try new activities or continue to pursue their existing hobbies. Once users complete an activity, they can share their achievements to inspire more individuals! With so much to learn and do, users can easily overcome their boredom as they continue to respect social distancing guidelines.

How we built it

HTML5 and CSS3 were used to structure and style the web application. Javascript was used to integrate Firebase into the application. To create and manage user accounts, the authentication feature in Firebase was used. Cloud Firestore was used to store all information relating to the posts (titles, tags, image URLs, subjects, descriptions, etc.). We implemented Cloud Storage to store all uploaded images.

Challenges we ran into

As none of our group members had any experience using Firebase, it was very difficult to implement it into our project. To familiarize ourselves with Firebase, we invested around four hours on day one of the hackathon to understand how to use Firebase. During the learning process, we found The Net Ninja to be a very helpful resource to learn about user authentication and storage with Firebase.

Another challenge we faced was the implementation of Firebase authentication because the API was not working when we followed online sources. With self-experimentation, we found that separating signing in, logging off, and logging on into different Javascript files solved the problem.

One other difficult challenge we ran into was linking pictures stored in Cloud Storage to posts stored in Cloud Firestore so when a post is displayed, the correct picture is displayed as well. Geoffrey took on this challenge and discovered how to store the Firebase image URL of an image into a post document in Cloud Firestore, resolving the issue.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud that we created Dis-COVID in a short amount of time. Additionally, we are happy that we overcame all issues and implemented Firebase to combat deteriorating mental health in populations. Moreover, for many individuals on our team, this was their first time coding in Javascript, so we are proud to see that they quickly learned and applied the language to our project.

What we learned

This was the first time that all of us have integrated Firebase into a user-friendly platform. As a result, we learned a lot about the Firebase console, Firebase products such as Cloud Storage and Cloud Firestore, initializing firebase products in a project, and the associated API keys.

What's next for Dis-COVID

As of now, Dis-COVID is a web application that allows users to create accounts, view their account information and posts, share their achievements, and view others’ posts by searching for specific tags. In the future, we would like to enable users to edit their posts and accounts. We would also like to create a system for users to like posts and follow other users. Creating a voting system through likes will incentivize users to try more activities and following accounts will help users connect with their friends, reducing loneliness. Finally, we would like to bring Dis-COVID to iOS and Android.

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