Inspiration

What inspired us to create OK Help was the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia. War is something that occurs all the time, and it results in many citizens seeking refuge in other countries to avoid the war. The issue there is that many refugees don't know where they're going, or if they'll be able to find shelter. Social media has allowed us to see exactly what war really looks like. It allowed us to see just how hectic and scary seeking refuge really is. From videos showing people trampling over each other to hop on a train, to arriving at a station in another country with people holding signs saying "I have space in my house," it's complicated and there isn't a guarantee everyone can find someone to help them. The name OK Help came from trying to come up with names that were easy to remember. We wanted to make sure the name was simple so people can tell others where to go if they need a host. You can say "OK! OK HELP!" and people would know exactly what that is.

What it does

OK Help connects refugees to a host in another country. To do this, we first prompt users to tell us if they're seeking refuge or are interested in hosting. From there, we collect some basic information, such as name, contact information, and location. We also ask for specific data depending on if they're a refugee or host, such as religion (this is important due to some countries having strict rules on religion, such as France's laws on religious affiliation, though this is only one example of many), how many people can be housed, and more. All of the information is then sent to our database. Once a user enters this information, they are given a unique ID to log in to the site. Refugees will be able to then pick a host and they'll be matched using the unique IDs. The refugee will then be able to get information from the host and OK Help will automatically return directions using the Google Maps and Directions APIs. The refugee will now have contact information, and will be able to send the host updates throughout their journey to arrive to the host location.

How we built it

We split up our team, two people worked on front end, one on back end, and another on APIs. We first made a tree of all the web pages we would need, made a table with data we'd might want to collect, and outlined features we wanted in our MVP. From there, we got right to work. We chose HTML/CSS for the front end since it's what we're most comfortable with. For the APIs, we chose Google Directions. We wanted this application to be as simple as possible. Loading maps sometimes isn't a good idea due to slow internet connections. We set up a web server on Google Cloud and managed our database using phpmyadmin.

Challenges we ran into

API- The Directions API didn't allow us to display directions to an HTML page. The documentation available online was showing an example using URLs. This wouldn't be ideal for our project due to the fact that we're going to be fetching data from a database and feeding it into a JavaScript file in order to get the results we need. URL examples are better for hard coded data. Unfortunately, we were not able to fix this problem during the course of the hackathon. Database - We wouldn't rely on the framework to be available on older phones. We weren't sure if users were going to have access to the most modern phones. We also ran into a bug with phpmyadmin that restricted access. We also were planning on making a static website but found that we ultimately had to do a dynamic website to incorporate everything. Also, a very personal issue, one of our teammates' keyboard doesn't have arrow keys, which made it difficult for using the Google Cloud terminal.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Our proudest accomplishment was creating a site that was live and functional. Although some of the technical aspects were not complete, the website can be used and our MVP (minimal viable product) was ultimately achieved.

What we learned

This was our first time working as a team, so we learned a lot about each other and how to work as a team. Additionally, we learned new skills. We learned some basics about the Google Maps API, how to create and manage APIs, how to host a site live on Google Cloud, and more.

What's next for OK Help

We hope to get the directions function working to allow us to actually display directions based on user data. We also hope to secure the data base a little more so that we can protect the information of hosts and refugees. We want this to be used for any occassion.

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