We've learned from the news that many homeless people die due to inability or difficulty to find shelters and we want to improve this process to make sure shelters can accommodate people to its maximum extent. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/homeless-deaths-toronto-public-health-1.4509218
What it does
This device counts the number of people staying at a shelter and makes this number accessible via REST API service. Such approach allows us to display this information on LCD displays at shelter locations, as well as online.
How we built it
We used components provided by the hackathon hosts which included Huzzah esp8266 microcontroller, Quapass LCD module, push buttons (which imitate a potential turnstile trigger). We connected it to AWS IoT Platform, which uses Lambda functions to update NoSQL database and talks to Google Maps API to return the location of the nearest shelter, as well as the number of available spaces there.
Challenges we ran into
Lack of documentation for provided hardware modules and integrations with Watson IoT Platform. This made us decide to go with AWS IoT Platform and AWS Lambda integration.
What we learned
How to integrate IoT devices with cloud services, debugging of components that lack documentation.
What's next for Shelter Finder
Testing and integrating the technology in the real world, and hopefully saving lives.