We have all wondered how we can preserve our earth for future generations and leave a better impact on our community and planet. It's easy to feel powerless, doubt our potential, and not know where/how to start.
What it does
Our mobile application connects dedicated citizens to environmental involvement within communities, as well as connecting nonprofits to more volunteers. Footprint is an accessible social community that encourages citizens to become involved more in local environmental projects by being able to start environmental events or attend others'. By volunteering more, users can rack up points, which can be redeemed for various discounts at local businesses. Anybody who is registered can start an event, or join an event. Of course, security is an issue and we would verify users before the create an event. Users can initially register as a volunteer or non-profit organization during the sign-up process. Afterwards, they are guided through a questionnaire aimed to gather the interests and environmental focuses of the user. This way, the user will be able to filter through event results and find categories they are interested in.
How I built it
We started with pen and paper for ideation and brainstorming. On the technical side, we used Android Studio with Google Cloud Storage Firebase to code the mobile app, and used GitHub for code-sharing. We developed the prototype in Adobe XD and designed all the assets in Adobe Illustrator.
Challenges I ran into
Some technical challenges we had to overcome included: narrowing the scope of our app by implementing one workflow, the time it took to completely learn a new environment and work in it, and after experiencing merge conflicts, we had to make sure to develop incrementally as a team. Other challenges we had to quickly learn from was jumping into the solution space too quickly. During initial idea brainstorming, we found ourselves spending more time trying to figure out designs even before trying to define who we are trying to design for, why this is important to society, how it would generate profit, what types of constraints users would have, and how to seamlessly integrate it into our prototype. It was a learning process!
What I learned
After surveying over 50 users, we learned that many people want to volunteer and help the environment but don't have the right resources to help them discover opportunities to get involved. After speaking with many mentors, we learned a lot about all of the things that a good app requires, including a business plan, marketing strategy, security, etc. We were constantly reminded that we had to look at our app from different perspectives in order to design and implement an app that would succeed in the market.
What's next for Footprints
Future prospects for this application includes:
- monetizing through partnerships with local businesses, paid memberships for nonprofits, including a "donor" option
- adding additional security measures through a registration/verification process to create the event
- incentives for restaurants, nonprofits, and student organizations (clubs, Greek life, sports) include free marketing and new customers in the door
- geofencing: checking in/out of events to prevent users from signing up to events but not showing up