Inspiration

Coming from a community that is as engaging as the Aggie Community, we have become accustomed to people helping those around them. But in reality, as willing as people are to lend a helping hand, it is often difficult to find the platform or resources to facilitate that service. A specific case is the wildfire crisis that is currently plaguing Australia. FireAUl is intended to offer the people of Australia the venue by which they can help communities in need.

What it does

FireAUl is built to enable people to track the location and extent of wildfires in Australia. Users who are willing to assist in the event of a fire can volunteer to be responders. Users who are in immediate danger from a wildfire can use the web appto alert responders and authorities. Those who are in the vicinity of a wildfire can help in the crowdsourcing process of tracking wildfires. Any user can access safety information on how to prepare for, what to do in case of and how to recover from a wildfire.

How we built it

React.js powers the front end using Javascript, HTML, and CSS. The backend, writtenin python, uses Amazon EC2 as the web server, and firebase for hosting and file storage. Twilio allows for contacting users via SMS. Google Vision API verifies users’ reports of wildfires. Flask was used to create an API to manage interactions betweenthe frontend and the backend. Incorporated NASA’s satellite imaging data to populate wildfire locations. Safety information was sourced from Australia’s governmental sites.

Challenges I ran into

An issue with crowdsourcing the wildfires was ensuring the validity of the picture. Incorporating the Google Vision API solved that issue by ensuring a level of credibility for the proposed wildfire. In order to allow for custom datapoints on the map, custom KML files had to be made each time the map is updated to include a newly tracked wildfire and locations of users in distress. It was a challenge to find a format that would allow data to be easily accessible to users.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

We are very proud of the impact this application will have in solving a crisis that’s facing the world today. There was a lack of existing methods to communicate between the frontend and backend. We custom designed a Flask API to solve this problem. The ease-of-use of the website is another accomplishment because all tools are accessible initially without the worry of loading new webpages in the event of an emergency.

What I learned

“Preparation is half of the battle!” Planning individual tasks prior to actually starting to code them as well as drafting wireframes for the website as whole prevented miscommunication and confusion along the way and created a clear status check for the application for achieving milestones. Most teammates were unfamiliar with the frameworks and technologies that we intended to use in the project. By learning from each other and trial and error we managed to incorporate all the initial ideas for the project and more.

What's next for FireAUl

We feel that FireAUl has great potential in improving the conditions of people affected by wildfires in Australia. It would also be possible to expand to include other countries that have been affected by not only wildfires but also other disasters. While FireAUl helps people, we want to extend our reach to protect biodiversity in affected areas.

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