The inspiration came from the real need to know something that we didn't in our day to day life. How life can be made so easy by a simple app such as Quora was what we wondered each time we used it (Thats a lot of times!). And thats how we decided to make Dost. Why only people with good internet connection and a good smartphone be able to take advantage of such an useful app. What about those people who don't have a smartphone but still have a lot of Questions? Questions that need our Answers? For all those people out there, we decided to make DOST.
What it does
Dost is a service for everyone. The people with or without a smartphone. For those who dont have a smartphone, a simple website will be available at a kiosk in every village, probably the Gram Panchayat, where a computer and internet connection (regardless the speed) is generally available. With the help of the Kiosk manager/helper, a person who has a question can send in his query to the service. This query then is available to all the other Dost users, on their app. The service gets back to the user who asked the question with the help of an sms. This SMS is sent to the user once thee question has been answered. Also, the users that have access to proper internet can also use the app not only to answer questions, but to get answers to their own as well. Another major feature is that of the Expert Advice. Suppose we need an answer to a question in quick time, for this we plan to tie up with selected companies/people such as hospitals or doctors for health realted queries, or some banking related query can be send to some banks or bankers.
How I built it
Dost basically consists of two important parts. The website that will be running at a kiosk in every village and the app that all users with smartphones and internet connection will have. The link between these two is the database. We have used an sql database (with the help of phpmyadmin). The website consists of a simple HTML Form which enables the lay man to convey his query with ease. Nothing fancy in here so that high speed internet is not required (As it is not available!). The app on the other hand was made of pure android with the help of android studio. Users can answer questions, upvote questions, ask new questions, upvote other answers and
Challenges I ran into
Since this is a hackathon, and we had limited time, the challenge ultimately was to come with a good final product in 30hrs. This was a challenge in itself, but , we didn't want to take the easy way out. What is the point of coming to every hackathon and doing the same thing? So we decided to learn something new and opted to go with php. This was our first time that we would be writing APIs and not using some third party APIs! And we went with it. Writing code after code, API call after call, each a challenge in itself. This was the biggest challenge for us, but we definitely enjoyed it. Also, since the service aims on the rural area people, we had restrictions in terms of UI and infrastructure. This was also a big challenge.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of and ## What I learned
Well we are definitely proud of the fact that we learnt something new from this hackathon. We got ourselves going with PHP and writing our own APIs. We also could come up with real life practical solutions based on the situation in the villages in the real life. Team work and dividing work amongst the three of us equally and in such a way that things go along parallely was also a great experience.
What's next for Dost
We are definitely looking forward to completing the project as per our 100% expectations, infact, our target is to make it even better than we thought of. While the hackathon was going on, we came in touch with many mentors and people around who were really impressed by our idea. This has definitely given us the motivation required to take this project to the level it deserves to be at. We will also try to implement this project under the UBA (Uccha Bharat Abhiyaan) that runs in and around the Pune district. This definitely is not a project just for a hackathon!