Inspiration

Just in the last few months, the coronavirus has dramatically altered our lives in ways previously un-imaginable. In coming up with an idea, we wanted to make an application that will have a direct impact on our lives and can contribute to improving society in some way. What better way to achieve this, than directly contribute to Halloween and its quintessential tradition of trick-or-treating. We could all agree that trick-or-treating is a hallmark of Halloween for any age group, and it is simply unfair to lose out on this amazing experience due to the Coronavirus.

Research has shown that the last few months have been tougher than ever, with an ever-increasing number of people reporting signs of depression and anxiety at alarming rates as reported mainly due to the offset of loneliness. With the advent of Halloween, we believed that the opportunity to 'leave our homes', 'visit a neighbor', and 'walk around in the community' by trick-or-treating may just help people overcome this sense of loneliness, allowing them to 'refresh and replenish their minds'.

Thus, we set our sights on building an application that will allow people to go trick-or-treating more safely, with a fun twist!

What it does

Our web app, Safetreats, was created as a platform to enable safer trick-or-treating. Safetreats allows households to express an interest in giving away candy, and enables trick-or-treat-ers to view such households via a live-map and determine if they're covid-safe.

We gather the data on a household being safe, by analyzing the data on covid cases in the local county - published by Microsoft Bing.

Safetreats also allows parents to ensure that the candy their child receives follows their dietary restrictions. Parents can use Safetreats to filter out households on the map that are handing out candy which doesn't meet their child's restrictions.

Trick-or-treaters can use Safetreats to get to the best treats first, by filtering for households that are giving out their favorite types of treats.

The web app has two initial choices, one where users can enter if they are interested in handing out treats and the other if they are interested in TrickOrTreating. By selecting the first option, the users are then directed through a series of questions and a search bar which allows them to enter the location of their household. Finally, users are then directed to a map showcasing all the possible locations for trick-or-treating. By selecting the second option, users are led directly to this map and have access to a search bar where they can enter a location. On this map, users can select certain locations for a description of the candy being handed out at these locations, and the safety - determined by data analytics. This map functions in real-time with the use of web sockets, allowing users the convenience of using it as a part of their regular Halloween routine.

How we built it

We built Safetreats using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, Pandas, NodeJS Express, Mapbox API, MongoDB, Google Cloud, Web Sockets (ws).

We built our Web App using HTML5, CSS3, and a lot of JavaScript, and our backend with NodeJS express, MongoDB. The search engine on the web app, and the map were designed through the MapBox API. The coordinates on the map were fetched by geocoding, and all the entries in the map were backed up to a MongoDB instance. To allow for the real-time functioning of the map, we used the 'ws' WebSocket API - allowing the map to be updated even when another client uploads a trick-or-treat location. The safety of a location on the map was determined by analyzing the CovidCasesData per county in the United States with Python and Pandas, published by Microsoft Bing. The web app was then hosted using the App Service Engine on Google Cloud, with continued support for web sockets through network customizations.

Challenges we ran into

  • Getting the web sockets to work on Google Cloud App Service
  • Finding a dataset for the 'safety' analysis
  • Analyzing the 'safety' analysis and effectively presenting it to users

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • Created a fully functional web application in 24 hours with an effective design
  • Contribute to a social cause, and build an application with an imminent impact
  • Implemented complex functionalities such as Data Analytics, and Geo Coding

What we learned

  • Nihal: although I have worked with express before, this was my first time implementing analytics features into a real web app
  • Sean: This was my first hackathon project where we seamlessly linked the backend & frontend. I learned a lot about how to collaborate with a experienced backend developer, and how helpful that can be. I always had the impression that integrating backend & frontend had to be a painful process, but I can see now how it can be done without needing to step on each others toes one bit. Overall I learned a lot about working with a team as a whole and I'm extremely grateful to have found a great team for this project at the last-minute.

What's next for Safe Treats

The next steps for SafeTreats would be to introduce a complete authentication system for users, and find a different dataset allowing us to make more concrete assessments regarding the safety of a neighborhood. We also plan to introduce features for allowing users to input verified images of their household, showcasing the measures they are taking to maintain safety.

Research

Anxiety due to Covid - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/nuf.12521 "The sudden shift to exclusive e‐learning methods of instruction have produced anxiety and depression symptoms among a significant portion of the students due to the stressful load of work required."

Loneliness in Covid - https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/loneliness-epidemic-consequences "Lack of social connection has a significant effect comparable to other leading indicators of risk for early death,"

Social Interaction and potential benefits of celebrating Halloween - https://dbknews.com/2019/10/31/halloween-costumes-freedom-adulthood-instagram/

Lack of clear solutions for maintaining safety while celebrating Halloween - https://www.cbc.ca/radio/whitecoat/how-to-have-a-safe-halloween-covid-19-1.5777674

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