We like GIS. Thus, there was a desperate need to stick it into our Junction project and display our (at least self-proclaimed) skills in this field. After considering about a dozen different tracks and challenges, Finnair was chosen as "the task" since we wanted also to ease up travel planning and get over the tedious hassle of finding first the travel destination and then the flights there. We dreamed about a situation in which you could just roll the globe and go wherever your finger points (with some algorithms defining the destination so you actually get what you want ;))
What it does
Our solution is a one-website app that removes the burden of travel and flight planning from the traveller's shoulders. The workflow contains exactly three steps:
1) the customer answers to a brief questionnaire to identify preferences
2) the globe rolls until the customer clicks it
3) based on personal recommendations and rough whereabouts from the globe, Finnair flights are offered
Simple, eh? Two minutes and Finnair flights are sold for the travel-hungry customer.
How we built it
Being GIS people, we naturally started from the map. In a nutshell, we made the globe roll, picked a point from there, searched for the nearest airports to which Finnair flies to, personalized the offers based on questionnaire, and queried the Finnair connection to chosen airport.
Regarding technicalities, the globe rolls on top of Ol-Cesium, a combination of OpenLayers and Cesium. The globe control and airport searching functionalities are split between Cesium and OpenLayers. For user interface, Bootstrap is enabled to guarantee good usability and scalability.
Challenges we ran into
Our main challenge was definitely the questionnaire; how to structure it and how to interpret the results. We tried to search for some external APIs to strengthen our recommendations for destinations based on the questionnaire. This was easier said than done, which means that this part of our app would be the next big development target.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We managed to get the very basic process going in the way we planned to quite soon during Saturday afternoon. Moreover, we succeeded in resolving all (merge) conflicts and small technical problems so that the end product functions reliably.
What we learned
This was the first actual hackathon for us all, so we certainly learned how the things roll in an event like this. The time is very limited, so we needed to concentrate on planning and dividing the work efficiently.
And of course a lot of coding practice.
What's next for GisCasual
Almost December. Some graduations incoming.