As a young adult, I worked at a non-profit that helped the homeless. Despite the fact that there were resources available, there were still hundreds of homeless who wandered the streets.
I quickly realized that the reason why the homeless remained homeless was due to a lack of information channels: the homeless did not have access to the internet, and the non-profits did not have the means necessary to reach a significant amount of homeless individuals.
Due to these restrictions, it was clear that the best way to approach this issue would be to have the people themselves provide the information to the homeless.
How do we do this? By providing a platform specifically for helping the homeless and volunteers for helping the homeless! That's Another Chance.
What it does
Another Chance has two target audiences: poverty-stricken individuals, and good Samaritans.
For poverty-stricken individuals, the tool will be a valuable resource to help them get back on their own two feet. For good Samaritans, it will be an opportunity give back to the community while earning points for rewards.
How we built it
We decided to make the the user's input in the form of audio. All a user has to do is press the record button and speak into the microphone anything he or she may need information about. We used Google's speech recognition api to transform user audio into text and implemented natural language processing using Google Cloud and its AI and Machine Learning products to accurately parse user's words into meaningful queries for resources they may need. Front end was built in React and back end was written in Node.js / Express with MongoDB as the database.
Challenges we ran into
Being a small team, we ran into quite a bit of challenges in terms of developing an adequate application. While all of us were familiar with the technologies being used, it was certainly a learning experience in terms of the amount of work each one of us had to individually contribute and take responsibility for a huge portion of the application. We utilized several other pieces of technology that each one of us were not accustomed to, but we remained persistent and came out with an impressive application in the end.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Developed a sophisticated web application with a small team in a short amount of time. Not only was our application full of features, we believe that our application is a great idea in terms of the social impact it has and it inspires people to take initiative and help others in need. The impact that our application will have for social good is truly the ultimate reward.
What we learned
Take individual initiative and control a large part of a sophisticated application within a small team. Continued to learn and hone in on our skills of modern web technologies that we utilized (MERN stack). Gained experience with several sophisticated frameworks (Google Cloud, Speech Recognition, and AI and Machine Learning products).
What's next for Another Chance
We are absolutely looking forward to continuing to make progress with developing our application. We plan on developing several key features that all aim to provide a seamless user-experience for those who will absolutely rely on our application for resources. We also aim to publish our application on multiple platforms in the near future, especially in different languages.