We came into The Big Hack with the goal of building a platform that would help volunteers effectively contribute to big problems around the world in a convenient amount of time. In the past couple of weeks, we've been working with three refugee-service NGO's to discuss ways volunteers can contribute to their operations in a crowdsourcing model, and at the hackathon, we conducted need-finding to see what kinds of tasks volunteers would potentially be willing to do for NGO's.
After all of that, we decided upon two hacks for this event. Our first was the Refugee Q&A Mobile Application (which is detailed in our other project submission), and our other hack was this idea of visualizing an NGO's volunteer base.
Part of our research revolves around building a platform that allows NGO's to connect with volunteers committed to their cause from around the world. In doing so, these NGO's can access these volunteers' skills/resources and thus expand their impact in the work that they do. All of this begins by first being able to effectively organize and filter their volunteer base by various characteristics, such as skills, expertise, languages, and location.
What it does
Our visualization is built as a web app and comes in two parts. The first part involves a map view which details the geographic location of all of an NGO's volunteer base (assuming their volunteers are signed up on our platform). The second part of our visualization is an interactive table that lists each of an NGO's volunteers and their respective information - we implemented a search system to allow us to filter volunteers by various characteristics. All of the data we collected for this project (skills, location, experience, etc...) was gathered from scraping LinkedIn profiles of volunteers who granted permission for us (and NGO's) to reference their LinkedIn network. We also combined some data from our need-finding survey into our analyses.
How we built it
Back-end is flask, front-end is angular.js + HTML + CSS.
Challenges we ran into
We ran out of time in terms of adding a few features (the biggest being combining the filtering feature with the map so that we filter who shows up on the map upon searching in the table). We also had a few learning curves to overcome in terms of learning Angular.js.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were able to visualize an NGO's volunteer base and create a baseline platform to continue upon in the next couple of months! We plan on expanding on this research, so having a working platform (two, in fact!) is a great start. We plan on experimenting and refining this platform so that we can potentially use it in later iterations of prototypes we create during our research.
What we learned
We learned that there are many ways to visualize volunteer data for NGO's. The challenge is choosing the best way to effectively display that data such that NGO's can streamline their operations. We also learned that it's awesome to work with real needs and with real NGO's. We also found feedback was extremely helpful for future iterations of our research. We also enjoyed working with new people.
What's next for Refugee Project - Visualization