There's an amazing tool for emailing your congressional representatives called democracy.io that is capable of finding your district Representative and both your Senators with just a postal address. It's a fantastic time saver makes contacting your politicians _ seriously easy _. But because it isn't on Facebook, this tool isn't useful to the majority of American voters who voted in this last election. With Facebook becoming a digital hub for millions of people these days, it only made sense to imbue the site with a utility like democracy.io.
What it does
Repre.tech obtains the ZIP code of the user through natural language dialogue and produces an interactive cards for all three politicians, each containing the politician's name, party affiliation, and office phone number. From that card, the user can call the office directly and deliver their message to the politician of their choice.
How we built it
We built this using API.AI, and used Heroku to run the back-end of the application.
Challenges we ran into
The data source we intended to use ProPublica wouldn't cooperate with us during development, forcing us to search for a new ZIP code-accessible database of legislators. And while the new database provided the same search functionality as the old one, it lacked the breadth of data of the former.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Deployment! This is our first hack as a team, and our first deployed hack. That a marine biologist, a chemist, and a freshman computer engineering student could come together and build something like this is an accomplishment that we're all proud of.
What we learned
Build with the tools you're comfortable with. For the first half of the day, this hack was being built using the MEAN stack to do the same thing as we accomplished with a tiny Flask server. Asking questions to others more experienced than ourselves was another major lesson.
What's next for Repre.tech
More modes of contact! We would love to see Repre.tech expand to allow users to tweet and email their representatives.