Inspiration

Our inspiration was to create an app that put knowledge about the world around you at your fingertips. You can check in on loved ones and make sure they are ok. This could help families connect better over longer distances. Also, many news sites have many ads and some even require a subscription! We wanted an app that could solve this as well, and there are many different news sources that are used to provide a good idea of the area that you are looking at.

What it does

Our app uses a web crawling API that goes through many different news sites and gives articles that are related to the location and query (search string) that the user can set in a very simple motion. There is a social side that allows you to add contacts to plot them on the map in addition to the articles. Did I mention that if you want to get in touch with someone there is a 1 touch call or text function build in? Also, the locations are live updating s you can see where your friends are in real-time, so you can be more informed. Knowledge is power. (That is also why the app uses your location always, but it is built to drain as little battery as possible).

How we built it

We used a public API to give us JSON data which we then formatted into an array of dictionaries, and then to map pins. We used Parse for the backend, using the back4app platform, which supported live queries, which were used for the live updating locations of different users.

Challenges we ran into

We ran into a couple of challenges, and a major one at the beginning. The iMac I was using wouldn't run without an administrator password. We got past that, and there were many smaller bugs that were quite time-consuming, especially in our Cloud code functions where the query wasnt returning the proper values.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are very proud of the reader view for news articles enhances the readability of the article without data consuming ads and laggy popovers. This was accomplished with some well-placed javascript, CSS, and the Mercury Web API.

What we learned

We learned that things do not always go as planned, and there were many small bugs that took ages to iron out, but we all learned something more about programming by fixing them, and this was a very fun Hackathon to participate in.

What's next for DisasterAlert

In the future, we plan to have an Android app, and maybe even a web version. We could also improve the article reader view, as it is far from perfect, but it has come a long way from just the standard article page. (the link at the bottom of the submission will be fixed momentarily if it has not already gotten fixed by the time you read this)

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