Our team was inspired by the need for a service to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to build local communities, both online and offline. We have noticed the increasing cases of domestic violence - particularly towards women - since COVID-19 and wanted to build a web application that would both support and empower women.

What it does

Our web application is an online platform that fosters a safe-space and community support for women who are affected by domestic violence. Users will not be required to register or sign in as they can freely navigate through each page anonymously. Users will be able to share their story and submit it. Once their story is submitted, they can go through the Search page and view an interactive map with markers that displays locations of other shared stories.

How we built it

We built our web application with React as our front-end framework, Node.js as the backend, and used Javascript localStorage as our database. We also used Google Maps Javascript API to display an interactive map that users can view to read other shared stories.

Challenges we ran into

  • As the entire team is made up of beginners, it was hard to learn as we went. Since we were unfamiliar with the tools and languages, we had to do a lot of side research to determine what to use, how we should build and collaborate together, and how we are going to integrate our code together. Especially under time pressure, we had to constantly adjust the size of our project according to our progress.
  • Our initial challenge was considering user authentication in order to share stories and connect with others. Due to time limitations, we omitted this and let users have full access to the web app pages.
    • We faced challenges in finding the most optimal backend server and database to store user generated stories and locations. We originally considered building a Flask application with a SQL database, but found JS local storage to be quick and more efficient for our needs.
    • Lastly, we faced challenges in integrating Google Maps Javascript API and React. Displaying markers, infowindows, and hiding the API key, were all tasks that were more challenging and required further review of the documentation.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud to have built a minimum viable product as a group of beginners. It was rewarding for us as hackers and women ourselves to make something that would benefit women. Although our outcome has rooms for improvement, we put a lot of time and effort to learn new skills in such a short period of time, and we learned much more than just being able to write code - how to work as a team, how to work under a time pressure, how to work remotely, and that we could support female empowerment without being superheroes.

What we learned

We learned the importance of coming up with feasible yet accessible product plan from the start. Assessing our skill level appropriately and splitting up work evenly are keys to success. We also learned that we need to do a lot of research to learn about new technologies and examine which one should be used when.

What's next for LocalAid

If we had more time, we would figure out a way to incorporate an experience-sharing form page, which is written in HTML and CSS, to our home page(excluded from demo), which was written in JavaScript with React Framework. We prioritized the sharing feature as well as the Google Maps API page over simple web pages, so we did not have time to figure out how to put them all together. We also thought about adding a donations tab where we could directly collect donations from individuals and companies as well as a fundraising tab where we collect funds for therapists and treatments by selling female products.

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