We were inspired by general interest in UTD students to branch out and make friends. We know that traveling is an awesome bonding experience in which most of us ourselves made long lasting friendships. Even if you don't end up making a friend, it could very well be a great way to relax after spending a long, hard week at school. People need to travel more and experience new things, especially during college.We hope our application can be somewhat useful in these circumstances. And after finding out that most of the residence halls have or will be equipped with Amazon Alexa dots, our idea just sort of came together.
What it does
GTFO is a flask web application and corresponding Amazon Alexa skill that can be used to create group travel events for UT Dallas students. Making friends is a somewhat difficult experience for a lot of people. Especially one's straight out of high school, where most of their long term friends are no longer close by. We hope to pair up people with shared interests in one of the most fun and rewarding experiences we can think of; traveling. By registering via Alexa or our web-app you can select a budget, a weekend you will be available, and submit your information to be paired with others who also match your interests, budget, and availability. Once submitted, all you have to do is wait. When another couple users enter their information, and get paired with you, a notification will be sent to the group via text confirming a flight to an destination unknown beforehand, within everyone's budget. You can get in contact with each other, book the flight together, and have an unforgettable bonding experience with one another.
How we built it
We designed GTFO as a Flask based web application. We've incorporated Amadeus APIs to obtain flight information which we use to find the optimal destination based on our group's budget. We have a Flask HTML form that allows users to input their information so they can be appropriately paired with other students with similar interests which we store in a SQLite database. We continually check our database to see if a group pairing can be made, if so, we use data from the Amadeus APIs mentioned earlier to book them a flight within their budget and obtain its corresponding information. Afterwards, we use the Twilio API to to notify group members of each other and of the flight and destination information they will be requiring. We've also created an Amazon Alexa skill that can be used to hit one of our APIs to input them into our traveller's database table as well. The entire project is hosted via Google Cloud and is accessible via the domain http://gtfo.tech/
Challenges we ran into
We ran in to some troubles with the Twilio API, as there were significant delays between issuing a text message and it actually being received by our phones. We also ran into some trouble getting our Alexa skills working, but after a lot of Googling and debugging, we were able to power through it.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We actually got the project working! This was quite an endeavor for us as we ran into quite a few issues early on. Luckily we were able to power through the night, fixing each issue along the way (thanks StackOverflow!). This was the first hackathon for most of our group, so having a tangible result is really cool. Plus this is something that we wouldn't mind working on some more after the hackathon to see how far we can take it.
What we learned
We learned a lot during this Hackathon! None of us were very familiar with any of the technologies we implemented for our project. Some of us did not even know Python. When we were coming up with the idea and implementation, we all wanted to work on bettering our understanding with some of the platforms and tools we used. Over the past 24 hours, we've been able to get hands-on experience using Flask, Amazon Alexa, Twilio, Google Cloud, and a variety of other languages and libraries. This project was very involved for us, and left us with some valuable experience we can build upon in the future.
What's next for GTFO - Get The Flights Outta(here)!
Next we need to work on cleaning up the project, making a somewhat less whimsical and dated front end, as well as preparing to scale to a larger user base. Then hopefully we could present this as an actual service at UT Dallas to meet up with other students with similar interests on campus, while providing fun activities for them to do together. We also were thinking of adding road-trips and local events to our service, this way no student would be left out of participating financially.