Inspiration

The inspiration for this came about when the house I stayed in last year was infested with rats. After speaking with neighbors, I realized that this came about due to some nearby restaurants throwing food waste in flimsy garbage bins which could be easily toppled over and fed upon by rats.

I also realized that even with the availability of ESRI and Maps, official reporting channels on websites are archaic - people manually input addresses on these websites. Worse, sometimes, people cannot be bothered to look up the addresses for a food place they want to file a complaint on. Many public health and food safety concerns go unreported.

The first step to tackling environmental health concerns is by providing a consumer-centric way to report such issues. My app is an attempt to take this first step.

What it does

This app pivots on the need for a bottom-up rather than a top-down approach to tacking Environmental Health concerns. For this app challenge, I coded it around the sample scenario of tackling the "EH-13 Reduce indoor allergen levels" objective, specifically pests such as cockroaches and rats in food establishments. However, this can be easily extended to fields as varies as occupational health or workplace safety.

The main app page shows a live heatmap of reports in the area. For consumers, a possible use case would be to see if a particular food establishment is pest infested, or a realtor who might be keen to see if a house has a possibility of infestation.

There is also a page where one can file a complaint to add to the heatmap of reports. A feature of this is that the list of food establishments that you are reporting on is automatically retrieved from your current location - their addresses and exact latitude/longitude are automatically saved to the database as well. Finally, one can also view a textual list of all the complaints made so far.

For health officials, this app and its heatmap is useful to keep track of places where one should focus their efforts on. For example, a food truck who has a high volume of reports warrant more enforcement action.

How I built it

For my frontend, I experimented with a mobile app framework called Framework7 - pretty awesome and easy to use. The backend is powered by a live JSON store Firebase.

Challenges I ran into

Had a bit of problems with dynamic dispatch in Framework7 - resolved it in the end though.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

What I learned

It is pretty cool that with PhoneGap or Cordova, I can write webapps that can be packaged into a native app for iOS or Android. I look forward to experimenting more of this in future.

What's next for EHReport

If given more time, I would definitely gamify the reporting experience. For example, if you file a report, you get 1 point. Every subsequent report by another person on the same place gets you 100 points.

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