With COVID-19, we’ve all had to adjust to a new normal; new styles of working, learning, and entertaining ourselves. It’s had a major impact on our lifestyles. We wanted to make grocery trips a little easier, all while keeping environmental sustainability in mind. That's why we created Fenced In.

What it does

Fenced In is a mobile and web platform that makes grocery trips efficient; enabling fast inventory checks through the platform or simply by asking Alexa. You can make a list of items and check throughout the day to play your grocery trip accordingly. You can also see if the grocery stores are CDC compliant on the home page with our status indicator. While you’re at the grocery store, you can also update items’ stock status to inform your local community when essential items are available.

Fenced In minimizes the community’s exposure to COVID-19, and it also maximizes reuse. With more online orders and increased use of personal protective gear, cardboard boxes and gloves are more important than ever. Fenced In provides information on drop off locations that can easily be a quick stop before or after your grocery trip. We are empowering the community to repurpose waste created in this pandemic by teaching them how to dispose of their excess gloves and cardboard.

We are encouraging gloves to be dropped off at locations that participate in TerraCycle’s zero waste box and Kimbery Clarke’s RightCycle Program because the gloves are up-cycled and recycled to be used for other products. This a small solution towards solving for the National Geographic Challenge of empowering young people to impact our environment and community through technology. Cardboard boxes that many of our online orders come in are corrugated products. We can repurpose these cardboard boxes by creating cardboard furniture for homeless shelters as many of them are trying to keep individuals off the street for health and safety and the lack of basic furniture are unavailable (due to high demand and reduced production). A step in this direction would maximize utilization of corrugated products and help the environment during the pandemic, which is what the Smurfit Kappa Challenge aims to solve for.

How we built it

Fenced In's backend is powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). Data is stored in a Postgres database on RDS. Our API is implemented as a set of lambda functions which are exposed through API Gateway. The lambda functions are written in Python 3 and integrate with Google Maps API to obtain location data.

The UI is built using React and the Ionic Framework. The Ionic framework allowed us to easily create native web, android, and iOS interfaces. The Alexa Skill is written in Python, is hosted on lamba, and integrates with our API through API gateway.

Challenges we ran into

The dev work was a huge undertaking. There were a lot of unknowns especially surrounding the UI implementation. We ran into some challenges managing global state with React. We also ran into challenges placing the markers on the map view - getting typscript to respect the types of higher order components. We also ran into some issues with CORS while trying to call the API. We ended up disabling the check on chromium. On the backend, we ran into some issues passing parameters to lambda function - body and query. The documentation for this is a bit sparse.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We're a small, but mighty team. One developer and one UX designer. We're proud we were able to deliver a working application with Alexa, Web, Android, and iOS support in just a couple days, and manage to get a few hours of sleep XD.

What we learned

We learned a lot about how UI works with respect to routing, state management, typescript, and making REST calls to the backend. We did not have much UI experience beforehand and this was an a great learning experience for us.

What's next for Fenced In

In the future, we hope to: 1. Add parks and trails filter 2. Parks and trails would have safety indicator based on foot traffic and its social distancing practices 3. Implement a feature to request for a live stock check that would alert any members of the community at the grocery store to check if the item is there 4. Let services and businesses that use a lot of gloves to sign up for a recycling program 5. Provide a simple tutorial for cardboard furniture that allows the community to donate premade furniture to homeless shelters 6. Deploy the app to the respective stores - Google Play, Apple App Store, Alexa Skills

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