Inspiration

One of the greatest threats facing the planet and mankind is the toxic release of carbon dioxide (CO2) for which us humans are responsible. In fact, a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. Most of this comes from people’s daily commutes to work, in which 76% travel alone in their vehicle. This kind of daily behavior is highly inefficient and unsustainable. Today there are many solutions, especially to those 79% of Americans who live in and near cities, including carpooling, biking, public transportation, and electric vehicles. Why haven’t Americans embraced these cleaner methods of transport? It is likely due to convenience, cost, and overall lack of incentive. We intend to provide this convenience, incentive, and true clean commute financial data.

What it does

EcoPath is an all-encompassing transit program for the modern and frequent commuter. The driving functionality of EcoPath is that, given your location and a destination, the most-carbon neutral path to get there will be generated. It may tell you to walk/bike from here to there, grab a bus part of the way, and hail a rideshare for the final stretch. It will tell you how much it costs to take your path vs. if you drove the whole way and the respective carbon footprints of each method. Finally, it will score you for how you did, adding to a cumulative score that you’ve been racking up each commute. You can share this data over social networks and compare to your friends. It will also have the capability to call rideshare services from the app, see where nearby public bikes/bike share stations are, and eventually all features of mainstream mapping apps such as business info.

How we built it

We implemented a forward facing webpage that is running NodeJS. We have a forum requesting user input, and running it through our js function to calculate the carbon footprint. We run the location through the HERE api to find the distance. With that distance, we calculate the footprint.

Challenges we ran into

We dreamt up so much functionality for this app in the brainstorming phase that we had trouble initially making any progress at all. We could not figure out where to put our focus/learning power. A failed (for now) forte into Lambda functions took a lot of our time but we emerged with a more clearly defined view of what we had to do to get our idea off the ground. We ran into challenges adapting to javaScript, which was a new language to all of us, but we managed to persevere and get working code up.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud that we managed to figure out NodeJS and JS well enough to make this api call and create the webpage. We are also proud of what we learned about Lambda functions and mapping apis.

What we learned

As most of us are first-timers, every aspect of this whole project was a learning process. As mentioned, we hit a lot of walls as to which functionalities we were capable of both learning and implementing in such a short time span. That was probably the biggest lesson learned here. As for skills, between the three of us we picked up some knowledge regarding javascript, web design with NodeJS, overall application design, and a lot about making Lambda functions (which did not make it into this prototype unfortunately).

What's next for EcoPath

The first next step is to implement all the functionality we have planned into the application. First we will fully complete our algorithms and API calls for location, costs, carbon emissions, etc. Then we will merge rideshare interfaces with our own, inviting services such as Uber and Lyft to allow our users to hail their services in our application. Then we would incorporate the social media functionality of our program. We pursue this avenue in one of two directions. We can instantiate our own social media platform on the app, or incorporate calls to post on popular social media sites.

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