Inspiration

All of our teammates knew about MSU People Search and thought it was a very large breach of MSU student privacy. Anyone can visit the website and get private information on students such as phone numbers, home addresses, and emails.

What it does

We used a web scraper to pull all student information from the MSU people search website and are currently hosting it on a database. We build and Alexa skill to query the data and give the phone number of anyone at MSU who we have in the database.

How we built it

We used the Amazon Alexa SDK with AWS Lambda and DynamoDB. When a request comes in to Alexa, it starts a Lambda which queries the DynamoDB database.

Challenges we ran into

None of us had experience with these tools and products and there wasn't extensive documentation on using it. Also, we had lots of issues importing the data into DynamoDB and the runtime constraints of Lambda and lack of debugging tools are very difficult.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We were able to successfully retrieve all of the data we needed.

What we learned

We learned a lot about web scraping, how to use AWS Lambda, and general automation tasks such as automating file creation and conversion.

What's next for Howdy

We are planning on talking to MSU about changing the security model for People Search to make the data less generally available.

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