The primary inspiration for this bot is acknowledging that in these recent months, support for Black Lives Matter (BLM) has increased greatly while people around the world have taken time to protest against injustices. Diving into social issues and trying to understand all the political jargon, the political processes, and waiting for all the bureaucracy at work is no easy task at all. And so, we wanted to make it easier for people to be civically engaged in America.
What it does
Sharebear can tell you what bills and resolutions you should know about that are going through Congress. It saves you both the time and headache from looking through the 13,778 bills and resolutions currently before Congress. You can ask for the different topics and learn about a bill from a topic you’re passionate about. Additionally, you can also find out the weather forecast in any city, get a piece of advice, and what the most recent corona virus statistics are for any location.
How we built it
To determine conversation flow, we utilized Google Cloud’s DialogFlow and designed a conversation flow, creating custom intents and entities. With each user input, the app pings the DialogFlow API to get the correct response.
- React Native
- Google Cloud
- Adobe Illustrator
- Web scrapers
Challenges we ran into
On the planning side, understanding the political jargon and reading up on how the US government is structured. There were lots of ideas on how we could carry out civic engagement, but parsing government websites can especially be a challenge.
On the technical side, we created the Alexa skill and saw that Google offered an easy import tool which sounds too good to be true, and it was - that tool no longer works. So, we spent a lot of time reading and understanding many of the Google Cloud Products in order to successfully manually transfer the dialog model. Interestingly enough, you can code in python for AWS Lambda but not for Google’s Cloud Functions, so we needed to find a workaround for the lack of Python compatibility of Google Cloud Functions.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Tech for social good!
What we learned
Aside from all the different APIs, choosing and understanding which platforms or services to use to implement your program is also paramount. Found some great civic APIs. Learned a lot about US government structure and the federal government vs the state legislature and their differences. Most government websites still really suck though.
What's next for ShareBear
Next, it’d be cool to get a person’s state and federal representatives based off of their location. That way, they would know who to contact to share their views.