When searching for affordable housing, healthcare, food, and more, we noticed that there were hundreds of websites all over the internet which makes it difficult for a person in need to find the right resources. We wanted to create a way to make finding these resources more accessible and organized for the people that need them. We ultimately wanted to develop an application that allows people who need access to these resources to be able to find all of them in one website.
We also wanted to include the ability for companies or individuals to help donate to a family's cause and needs. Oftentimes on websites like GoFundMe, the people who get most of the donations have a very sensational story or have a large request. A lot of times, those in need don't have sensational or awe-inspiring stories. Sometimes they just need help paying rent, getting groceries, or putting their kids into daycare. We wanted to address this disparity by allowing people to donate to these types of families, the families that might not have a miraculous story but just need a little money to stay under a roof, pay for a doctor's visit, or buy food for their children.
What it does
It provides people who need access to these resources with a compiled list of all the affordable or free resources available to them. Perhaps the most important part is that these resources are all on one website, alleviating the issue of spending a long time searching for the right resource on the internet.
We incorporated an interactive map where users can see the locations of the resources on a map of the greater Seattle area. This allows users to locate the resources closest to them, without having to type in the address separately and search for where these resources are located. On the interactive map, we provide links and locations for things like affordable daycare, food, health services, clothes, and housing.
We also provide a way for other people to make meaningful contributions by showcasing what a family might need. This touches on the idea that not everyone that needs money has a very impactful story. Sometimes a family might need a month's worth of rent to get the ball rolling again. Our donations page allows these families to tell their stories, and it allows others to help donate to their cause.
How we built it
The user interface and user experience were designed in Canva. We went through multiple iterations of design particularly on the resources (map) page. For the implementation of the project, the web app mainly used React + MaterialUI for the frontend. We used the MapBox API to create the map and resource markers. The web app is hosted on AWS.
Challenges we ran into
The biggest challenge that we ran into was gathering and organizing the resources. There are endless websites for affordable housing, food, childcare, and healthcare services, which was a tedious and time-consuming process navigating and gathering the resources needed to build our application. We went through this process as part of our goal to help the people who need these resources save the time and effort it takes to find the right resource for them.
Another major challenge we faced was incorporating the Mapbox API into our web application. We had some misconfiguration issues at the beginning that took time to debug and fix. After the misconfigurations were handled, adding the resources that we previously compiled and organized was also a challenging process.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
At the beginning of the project, we set goals for a minimal viable product that would include a landing page, an interactive map for the variety of resources, and a donations page. We were able to implement and design these features to the best of our ability. We are proud of the fact that we designed and developed an MVP that we feel meets the goals and requirements we set for our project.
What we learned
We learned about a variety of new website development skills, such as using an external API that renders the Mapbox map. We also learned how painful the process of trying to find the right resources can be for someone in the position of quickly needing these types of resources.
Working together virtually on the same project was also a learning opportunity for our group, specifically in delegating tasks to make sure that everyone was involved and working towards the same project goals.
What's next for Live4Less
The first major improvement that we hope to implement is making the web application fully responsive on all devices. Due to the short turnaround time of the hackathon, we focused mainly on desktop view for the application. There are also some bugs in the user interface that we would like to address but didn't have the time to do so in the 24 hours.
As far as Live4Less's future as a service offered, we feel like this project has the potential for extensibility. We can easily add more locations for the resources that we have listed on the map. A short-term goal would be to fill out the greater Seattle area with more locations, with the potential of expanding our services to other cities or states as well.