Inhalation of pollutants is a growing problem in urban centers around the world. These pollutants cause health problems and are especially dangerous to the asthmatic and young. For people who do not have the possibility to travel by car or for people who often exercise outside, the daily inhalation of these pollutants can cause severe health risks in the long run. We wanted to address this problem by creating an app that helps users find better travel routes based on the air quality around them and understand the risks of exposure to pollutants a lot better.

What it does

EcoRoute finds a travel route that balances time spent in getting to the destination and air quality around the user throughout the route. The user is then shown the pollution value (based on the Air Quality Index), distance, and time it would take to complete the route by walking. They can choose to take this route, which opens guidance in Google Maps. The application, then, also motivates users to walk rather than drive by ensuring their health safety (in terms of air quality) at all times during their travel. We have also supplied an information page to help users understand the dangers associated with air pollution in their specific area. Based on their current location, it will report their city, the current Air Quality Index, and air quality standards (from Good to Hazardous) based on the previous value. We also added additional markers to the map to showcase what nearby air quality monitoring stations are showing in terms of the air quality index.

How we built it

We built our Android app using Java, to handle the maps we used Google's Map API, and to get real-time air quality information we used AQICN's API. Combining these APIs with our route finding algorithm we created EcoRoute.

Challenges we ran into

We struggled with integrating the Maps API, many of the features we wanted to use were poorly documented. This led to a lot of experimentation until we hit upon the right solution.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Adding real-time pollution information to the map and route querying based on time and air pollution. This provides important information to the user and informs them of areas to avoid.

What we learned

To keep things simple, we had been too optimistic in previous hackathons and failed to finish. This time we identified the key features we wanted to implement and developed them first. This meant we had more time for the finishing touches.

What's next for EcoRoute

We want to add alternative routes to EcoRoute, so the user can choose between different routes with different attributes (play around with the pollution values vs. time values and perhaps add additional factors to consider based on specific pollutants in the air). Additionally, add support for other travel modes such as biking or even skateboarding.

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