Our app idea was inspired by our own past experiences of feeling uncomfortable/unsure of travelling when it was dark. The look and feel of our app was inspired by other GPS software.
We want women and minority communities to feel safe while walking in the evening especially since the pandemic has led to an increase of race-based violence. We were motivated to create an app to address and communicate this issue of gender and race-based violence.
In 2014, statistics showed that only 38% of women felt safe walking in their neighborhood at night, vs the 64% of men. Sadly, this experience is not limited to women. Members of marginalized communities such as LBGTQ+ members and racial minorities, feel an excess of anxiety when travelling at night. LightsUp strives to give these individuals more confidence when traveling. Evening walks can also be difficult for the visually-impaired which makes LightsUp vital for them.
This app is also helpful for tourists and newcomers who are unfamiliar with the area as it lets them know which routes are safest and which to avoid.
With rising summer temperatures, walking outside during the day has become increasingly challenging, so evening walks are preferred. By making travelling safer, LightsUp encourages people to try alternate modes of transportation (walking, biking, bussing, etc.) as opposed to driving, which can help us reach our climate goals.
Covid-19 has increased the number of walks people take, so doing it safely is a priority. The pandemic has also caused a rise in mental illness. LightsUp helps improve mental wellbeing by giving users peace of mind while exercising and encouraging them to spend time outside.
LightsUp aims to make outdoor activities accessible for everyone. Our app addresses global issues from helping the environment (encouraging alternate modes of transportation), gender equality, empowerment for minority groups and the visually impaired (helping women, minority groups and the visually impaired feel confident while walking outside) and mental wellbeing (encouraging outdoor activity for mental health).
What it does
- LightsUp displays the map of streetlights in your area
- Can display the path to your destination with the shortest distance
- Allows you to view logs from other uses describing which areas they did not feel safe in. You can also post about unsafe areas to warn others.
- We also provide helpful resources to learn more about the app, the problem and where to get help.
How we built it
- Android studio
- MapBox API
Challenges we ran into
- We originally started the project using Java but realized that there wasn’t enough documentation for the navigation portion of our app in that language. We had to switch to Kotlin mid-way in order to incorporate the navigation features.
- Android studio took a lot of memory and kept crashing which made it difficult to use.
- We were all new to Figma so we needed to learn how to use it and the different tools available to us.
- With all we wanted to say, the video ended up being way over the limit. We needed to edit it to include only the most important information.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
- Learning to design a UX/UI mockup with Figma
- Using real-life data and presenting it in a useful way
- Editing a fun video
What we learned
- We learned to use MapBox API, Android Studio and Kotlin
- We also learned how to use Figma for the UX Mockup of the app
What's next for LightsUp
- As of now, LightsUp only displays the street lights available in Ottawa, so we wish to expand it to other cities as well.
- We plan to improve our current application so that it more closely resembles our Figma prototype
- We will improve our current application so that it includes our prototype functions (such as the area logs, upvotes, and displaying the closest route with more street lights), as well as avoid unsafe areas (based on user reviews and upvotes) when calculating a route.
- Currently our application is only available for Android devices set to be released on the Google Play Store. We will create an iOS version in the future.
- We can monetize our product by selling the anonymized data collected from our app (such as which lights are shut down, which areas people think are worth fixing) to the city/government so that they may help improve the city
- We will continue the fight against climate change by advocating for alternate modes of transportation to driving and making them safer to pursue.
- We also want to continue the conversation and inspire others to take action against gender and race-based violence.
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