Open Now

nwHacks 2019 Deployed with Inertia

Find contextually-aware safe havens on your way home - any time, any day.


There are many cases where innocent people commuting home are attacked shortly after getting off the bus. Last week, one of our members felt threatened that they were going to be followed home after highly uncomfortable interactions with a stranger on the bus. In this state of panic, Google Maps was found to be lacking in design for users who are in fight or flight mode, when all they want to do is to find the closest safe place to get off the bus.


Open Now presents a simple, easy-to-parse interface that immediately presents you with a number of options for reaching the nearest safe haven, as recommended based on contextual data.


  • Quick, at-a-glance overview of possible routes nearby safe havens and destinations
  • Intelligent suggestions based on contextual data such as your current and predicted trajectory, public transit mode, walking pace, and weather
  • Detailed, turn-by-turn directions and destination details just a tap away
  • Dark theme optimized for night-time environments

How we built it

Open Now is an iOS app built in Swift backed by a server written in Golang that powers our intelligent point-of-interest recommendations. The app and the server communicates using protocol buffers to serialize data transfer over Google’s remote procedure call framework, gRPC.

The server communicates with open-source public transit databases as well as the Google Maps Platform to generate recommendations, and is hosted using Inertia a continuous deployment tool that we previously built — to handle automated updates on our cloud instance.

What's next for Open Now

We’re hoping to continue building on our recommendation engine to provide helpful and accessible safe havens and destinations by taking more contextual data into account and integrating with more data sources.

We also want to continue improving how our client application surfaces relevant, actionable information and the user flow.

Prize Pitches

Google - "Most Innovative Project"

Google will be awarding AIY Voice kits to each member of the nwHacks team with the most innovative project. Use the kits to build intelligent systems that speak & understand, and then start tinkering! Take things apart, make things better and see what problems you can solve.

Open Now takes a particular situation - one where you urgently need to find a close, safe haven to get to as quickly as possible - and offers a solution that gives users instant, accessible, and relevant destinations and routes in a sleek mobile capplication.

Best Use of Google Cloud Platform

Use a Google Cloud Platform service (list hosting or machine learning) in your project to win a Google Home Mini for each team member

Open Now makes extensive use of the Google Maps Platform to aggregate point-of-interest information in conjunction with other data sources, such as contextual data from the client, the transit database, and the openweather API.

Microsoft - "Azure Prize Champ"

Prize: Automatic entry in Imagine Cup 2019 Semi-Finals and two chances to become one of the few elite teams at our regional finals, plus Xbox One Xs for each team member! (Up to four)

The Open Now backend is hosted using Inertia — a continuous deployment tool that we previously designed and built as part of UBC Launch Pad, a software engineering club — to handle automated updates on our Microsoft Azure VM. Throughout the duration of nwHacks, our team has been continuously pushing into a deployed branch, which triggers a secure webhook delivery to Inertia that prompts it to pull the latest changes, build the new server, and get it up and running. This has enabled us to rapidly provide a deployed, up-to-date backend for our client developer to use.

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