Given the recent divisive political climate, the democratic process is more important than ever, but many people don’t know what role they can play to impact politics. Since all four of us are students in AP Government, we’ve learned about the different essential aspects of the American government. Unfortunately, much of the interaction we have with congressmen and legislators is through poorly conducted phone polls manned by desperate workers looking to make extra money. Citizens deserve the ability to communicate with their representatives in a concise and intuitive manner. So we made Pollr.
What it does
Pollr digitizes the process of responding to polls presented by politicians and representative by allowing those in power to post a question to a generic or specific demographic. These politicians can ask questions to users in specific Congressional districts about controversial topics ranging from tax breaks to gun control. Once the question have been posted, the politician will be able to analyze real-time data about the opinions of their constituents and citizens across the nation. Pollr also provides the politicians with social media sentiment analysis of national and local sentiments regarding specific issues that the politician has been asking about.
Users of Pollr, those who are answering the poll questions, will have the ability to respond to their representative’s questions and to provide their own insights into specific issues. Users will not only be incentivized by the opportunity to become more involved in the political discourse of our nation, but will also be encouraged by a tokens system that gamifies the process of answer these poll questions.
How we built it
Pollr comes in three parts; the Android mobile app, the Flask web dashboard, and the MongoDB server (also hosted with Flask).
- The mobile Android application built with Android Studio and makes use of native commands such as push notifications that are sent whenever a poll question is available to a user. This framework allows the application continuously update the user on potential questions targeted towards them by their representatives.
- Our server was constructed with a MongoDB database and hosted with another Flask app (enabled by PyMongo). This server allowed the mobile and web apps to perform GET and POST requests to access the MongoDB server for every function (answer questions, registering users, etc.) The server connects all part of the Pollr application and enables its fluidity.
Challenges we ran into
A key challenge we discovered was the communication between the main Flask server and the MongoDB database. PyMongo was initially difficult to implement, but after assistance from a mentor and a valuable authorization command, our server was ready to begin serving both the web and mobile applications.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Overall, we’re extremely proud of coming in with little knowledge about Flask and MongoDB, then being able to develop a fully responsive app using all of these technologies relatively well. While we considered making what we are more comfortable with (particularly Node.js with web apps), we wanted to push our limits to take the challenge to learn about mobile development and cloud databases.
Another accomplishment we’re proud of is Sachin Jain’s beard which remained as majestic as ever throughout the 30 hours.
What we learned
During our time developing Pollr, we were exposed to and became proficient in various technologies ranging from Flask to MongoDB. However, besides technology, we learned important lessons about taking the time to properly flesh out our ideas before jumping in headfirst. We devoted the first few hours of the hackathon to really understand what we wanted to accomplish with Pollr, so in the end, we can be truly satisfied with what we have been able to create.
What's next for Pollr
In the future, we’re looking toward enabling more forms of filtering demographic data to conduct more analysis about how certain groups of citizens feel about specific issues. Furthermore, we are looking into the potential of having Pollr function as a business where politicians would purchase 1000 user responses for $100, and we could potentially give 5 to 10 cents per question to the users per question.