Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one of the DataLeague sponsors brought to our attention few problems. One of them was that there are various contaminants present in the drinking water, and there is no comparison available between allowed state and national maximum water contaminant levels. We chose to solve this problem as we thought it will create awareness among citizens about the water that they are consuming, and can possibly lead us one step closer in avoiding situation like one in Flint, MI in future.
What it does
Our application provides a centralized view of the water contaminant levels across 10 counties in the state of Maryland. It individually compares 6 different contaminants like Chlorine, Fluorine, and Lead showing the allowed Maximum Contaminant Levels in the county and nationally. Along with that the dashboard also pulls up tweets about water by public in various counties, providing real-time updates on the water situation across the nation.
Challenges we ran into
The main challenge we faced was a lack of centralized data on water contaminants across various states. Hence, we had to change our project from state data to county data. Moreover, whatever data we found was all in HTML or PDF format as some of them were the published annual reports. Hence we had to convert that to an acceptable JSON format that we can utilize for our application. Also, our team comprised of 2 freshman, first time hackers who were not quite proficient and were still getting familiar with Java. Also, we had thought of implementing several features to the application, however it was not possible to implement all of them in less than 24 hours.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud of the functionality of our app which can easily show the contamination levels of water to an ordinary citizen as well as EPA officials. Additionally, any individual can open the web app and can check what actually is he/she drinking and can gain additional info as desired. We were also glad to be able to provide a better User Experience by adding multiple pages and interactivity.
What we learned
We learned about some of the problems that actually exist and also got information on what are some of the potential health problems that can be caused by higher levels of water contaminants. Along with that as it was 2 of our team members’ first hackathon they learned about team work, impact of programming concepts in real world as well as some intricate details of programming.
We had thought about implementing various features that can be added to the application, like adding health problems caused by various contaminants, provide a histogram of the MCLs, as well as implement features like a customized profile per user and also allow him/her to contact appropriate authorities for any concerns. Getting an access to live real-time data from water filtration sites, this dashboard can be made more dynamic and interactive.
This project was created at DataLeague Hackathon and was awarded the 1st prize