As part of Governor Ige's State of the State address, he talked about creating a more self-sufficient and sustainable Hawaii. Right now, 85 to 90 percent of Hawaii's consumed food is imported. Reducing our dependency on imported food is key to improving our self-sustainability and we can help achieve this by supporting our agriculture and local farmers. By replacing even 10 percent of imports with locally grown food, we can generate millions of dollars in sales, wages, and taxes.
That being said, where do you start...
Farmers' Markets are a great vehicle for local farmers and vendors to sell their products, but with over 100 markets across the State happening on different days and time, the public cannot easily find them with updated information. The public would have to do multiple searches and go to multiple websites to find all this information. Generally, if the information isn't easily accessible or updated, people will just give up. This results in less attendance and less sales.
One, provide organizers an user-friendly, intuitive platform for updating their market's information or upcoming events. Two, provide the public with a centralized location where they can easily search for markets based on location, time, vendors and even produce. We believe by addressing these pain points, we will increase public visibility and attendance to farmers' markets. This increase support for local farmers and vendors and help Hawaii become self-sustainable.
Meet Local Host
Local Host is a web and mobile (iOS) application that allows the public to quickly search for nearby farmers' markets with all the relevant information they would need to find the market of their choice.
Local Host incorporates Badges that highlight markets that have percentage of vendors that are "Local" (locally grown/produced) and/or "Organic" (sell organic products). "Local" badges bring more awareness to users about supporting locally grown/produced products which in turn, helps improve our self-sustainability initiative. "Organic" badges highlight markets that are more health conscious, especially with the growing concern of eating healthy. On top of bringing awareness to the public, this feature will also promote competition among the Organizers to have their markets standout and pursue a higher percentage, thus resulting in supporting more local farmers.
Local Host also allows Market Organizers to have a simplified, intuitive, central place to control the content of their markets and provide instant updates on schedule, events, news, and vendors. By allowing organizers to manage their market pages, this helps in creating a more sustainable model as it becomes a community driven app as opposed to the State updating a database. It puts more of the responsibility and accountability for the information to be updated on the Organizers versus the State.
- Simplified, clean view of markets nearby with relevant information
- Search on market, area, products, vendor
- Filter by day and time
- Map integration, pin location (Web)
- Map integration, navigation/directions (Mobile)
- Market/Vendor Badges to highlight Local (Made in Hawaii/locally grown) and Organic vendors
- User Rating (5 star rating system) and Comments
- Market administration - update date, time, location, etc.
- Event/News postings - Market Organizers can update the community on upcoming events or changes in schedule
- Favorites - allow users to save their favorite markets for quick access
- HDOA administration - email/contact info and ability to remove inappropriate user postings
- Full mobile support (Android)
- Vendor pages - allow vendors to have a vendor view which they can post pictures and update products sold
- Made in Hawaii database integration - use API to collect vendor information to automatically apply appropriate badges
How we built it (Technology Stack)
Back-End and Web Front-End
For the mobile side, we built it as a native iOS app using Swift and Xcode. The reason for developing on native iOS, from a user-experience standpoint, native UI is much more responsive than hybrid apps as they tend to be more sluggish. In our experience, an app that is not responsive will not be easily adopted and will be uninstalled.
We attended every HACC check-in to talk to our Department Challenge Sponsor, Helene. There we learned about the problems the HDOA is encountering with farmers’ market information being outdated and decided to design the app to make it as user-friendly as possible to encounter usage.
We also met with a Market Organizer, Pamela from FarmLovers Farmers' Markets, where we learned the challenges of hosting a farmers' market, the relationships that are built with the vendors, vendors having difficulty with technologies, and getting the market information to the public.
This knowledge lead to implementing features, like event posts and badges, that benefit markets that put in the extra effort to improve the community, allowing them to standout from the pack. Also, designing an user-interface that is simplistic and intuitive, so anyone can use it was very important to both organizers and users. Having an over-complicated app will just deter organizers from using the app.
With Local Host, we feel we can accomplish the goals set forth and have an impact on the community by having markets promote locally grown food and bring more awareness to the public, to help build a self-sustainable Hawaii.