Google Cans

Team 15

Andy Huang, Jennifer Dong, Linda Jiang, Victor Ren

Eco-Living Category


The inspiration for this was based on personal experience. As busy university students, if we had garbage while we were out, we either had to hold on to it or by the rare chance we happen to see a trash can, we could throw it out. Sometimes carrying rubbish all day is not something you want to do so people just think "dropping one piece of trash won't hurt", but it happens quite often. There are many situations where people will have items to be thrown away, but they are out and have nowhere to put them. We decided to create this app to solve that problem.

What it does

This app is aimed primarily at people between the ages of 18-34 since that is the age group where most people are extremely busy and do not always have the time to manually find a trash bin. Google Cans aims to reduce the frequency of littering by showing the map locations of public trash cans and recycling bins. Many times, people are in a rush and cannot find a trash can nearby—consequently, they assume that there aren't any nearby, and simply throw their rubbish on the ground. To combat this issue, the location of the nearest trash cans based on your current location will be shown and you will know exactly where and how to get to the closest trash bin.

How we built it

We built Google Cans using many technologies, including JSON, Google Maps API, Google Cloud Platform, Python, HTML, Javascript, and CSS. Using existing APIs sped up our development process immensely, as we established a strong foundation for the process and allowed ourselves to build off of something that is already functioning.

Challenges we ran into

The main challenges we encountered were technical issues with our coding. Using the Google Maps API, we initially struggled to pinpoint certain locations and have our custom icons appear on the map. Another one of our major issues was with finding efficient ways to implement functions of our map. For example, using algorithms to calculate the shortest path to a garbage bin caused us a lot of issues. As a result, we had to sacrifice flexibility and resort to hard-coding certain sections in order to meet time constraints.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

With EnactusHacks 2.0 being the first hackathon for two of the members of our team, we are extremely proud of how far we've come into the development of our project. From the brainstorming stage to the coding of the program and the creation of our slide deck, we've bonded as a team and learned a lot from each other throughout the process. We were able to come together and collectively contribute our strengths, which has allowed us to reach the final outcome of our app.

What we learned

From this project, we had major takeaways in both technical skills and knowledge of global issues. In terms of technical skills, we worked with JSON for the first time and learned how to use it. We were also able to utilize the Google Maps API as well as Google Cloud Platform, which we are now much more familiar with. With regard to eco-living, we were able to learn a lot of new things about littering and sustainability. We were shocked to see some of the facts about littering during our research, which motivated us to optimize our app to lower the concerning figures in the future. Overall, this project was a tremendous learning experience.

What's next for Google Trash

Currently, there is only one icon for both trash cans and recycling cans. In the future, we expect to incorporate different icons for easy differentiation between the two as well as to add more types of bins such as glass, bottles only, etc. Not only do we want this idea to be added to Google Maps, but we also want to expand, and add it to Maps on Safari as well as other mobile maps services. Pokémon Go is an extremely popular mobile game, so a special event day where Pokéstops are found at trash bins will aid in creating awareness of where the bins are located.

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