Landmark aims to empower travelers by taking care of the nuanced aspects of travel such as navigating the first few moments in a new city, or the first time in a new college campus, or just about finding one’s way out in an offbeat place. Travel is stressful, public transportation can be hard to figure out, and landmark bridges this gap between information provided by google maps to actually getting people to the location by crowdsourcing information from locals and fellow travelers.

Our project was inspired by chatting with our fellow hackers about their travels to Stanford, particularly those who had to fly in. Even though you can use Google Maps to route from your current location at the airport to the Stanford campus, many important details are left out. It may direct you to take public transit, but doesn't tell you that you need to get a Clipper Card to pay, or where to obtain such a card. Sometimes it's even a challenge to navigate your way out of the airport or to the correct hackathon building on Stanford campus itself. One member of our team had to ask locals how to find the proper public transit line (and realized it was underground!) after getting lost in San Francisco.

These are all important details for smooth travel in a new city but are small enough nuances that big companies like Google can't keep up. Our innovative solution is to fix this problem with crowdsourcing. Much like Wikipedia or OpenStreeMaps, anyone with useful knowledge of the area can log into our app and edit a common database for those particular locations. For example, they can add text-based information about what type of card you need to swipe in order to ride the public transit, mark some nearby locations to obtain the cards, or even link to the website with current payment rates. Additionally, editors can add pictures of notable landmarks along key sections of the route; e.g. show where to make a right turn, or add an arrow pointing to where you can find the stairs to the underground transit on a busy San Francisco corner. Our proof-of-concept demonstrates some of these features on the Stanford campus, en route Treehacks.

We conducted a survey amongst the hackers yesterday through google forms and identified data about the challenges they faced, visual landmarks they noticed en route to the venue. Team members from Stanford helped identify useful points that would have helped these hackers to act as the proxy crowdsources for the purpose of this demo. Finally, we developed an Android application, even though almost all of our team had no experience in app development. We started with the TreeHacks "hackpack" for Android, and moved forward from there. After many challenges in Android Studio and device emulators, we were able to create a proof-of-concept for our app. We learned so much along the way about the design method and all the details that go into creating apps, following human-centric design principles through both online tools as well as our outstanding hackathon mentors. We provide two interfaces, one each for the traveler and the contributor and have made design decisions based on these.

Here's to making travel a little more unique with crowdsourcing and a little less stressful on the mind!

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