We were inspired to create our website in response to the homelessness crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We saw the devastating impact of inadequate shelter and the urgent need for more resources to support those in need. Concerned by the limited capacity of existing shelters, we turned to technology to find a solution. Our hope is that by leveraging algorithms to optimize shelter placement, we can help policymakers create new shelters and improve the lives of the homeless community.

What it does

SOUL is a website that utilizes cutting-edge algorithms to identify optimal locations for homeless shelters based on population densities and the distribution of existing shelters. By providing information on nearby shelters and resources, SOUL helps homeless individuals find safe and secure housing. Additionally, our website can be used by policymakers to influence social policy and improve access to essential resources for those in need. With our innovative approach, SOUL is making a positive impact on the lives of the homeless community and working to create a better future for all.

How we built it

SOUL was built using several technologies, including HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Python. One of the key technologies we utilized was Leaflet, which is an open-source JavaScript library used for creating mobile-friendly interactive maps. We integrated Leaflet into our website to provide users with an intuitive interface to visualize and explore the locations of homeless shelters.

Additionally, we used HTML and CSS to develop the website's front-end and create an appealing and user-friendly interface. Python was employed to use our own mathematical algorithm to address the insufficient data on the homeless population.

Overall, our use of these technologies helped us to create a functional and effective website that is making a positive impact on the lives of homeless individuals and helping policymakers make informed decisions.

Challenges we ran into

During the development of SOUL, we encountered several challenges that tested our problem-solving skills and technical abilities. One of the main obstacles we faced was the lack of data on the homeless population, which made it difficult to implement our K Nearest Neighbors algorithm. However, we overcame this hurdle by developing our own mathematical algorithm that incorporated the weights of the clusters to identify optimal shelter placements near all of them.

In addition, we encountered difficulties when learning new technologies such as leaflet, as it was a new concept to us. Despite these challenges, we persevered and learned how to integrate leaflet into our website.

Another significant issue we faced was the lack of available data on the homeless population. Much of the relevant information was either behind paywalls or not the type of data we were looking for. However, we eventually managed to locate a dataset that we could implement, which proved useful, albeit not ideal.

Overall, despite these challenges, we were able to develop SOUL into a valuable resource for both the homeless population and policymakers. Through innovative problem-solving and a commitment to excellence, we overcame these obstacles and produced a website that is making a positive impact on the lives of the homeless community.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud to have accomplished the integration of Leaflet, a powerful JavaScript library for interactive maps, into our website, allowing users to easily visualize the placement of homeless shelters and locate directions to them. We believe that this feature adds a user-friendly aspect to our site, making it easier for individuals to access information on homeless shelters and find help when needed.

Furthermore, we are also proud to have developed our own algorithm to replace the K-nearest neighbors algorithm, which enabled us to optimize shelter placement for homeless individuals in areas with insufficient data. This algorithm takes into account various factors such as population density and the location of existing homeless shelters to provide optimal placement suggestions for new shelters. By developing our own algorithm, we were able to tailor our approach to the specific needs of our users and provide more personalized solutions for individuals facing homelessness.

What we learned

Throughout the development of SOUL, we encountered various challenges that helped us learn a lot. One of the main lessons we learned was that finding suitable datasets can be much more difficult than implementing them. We spent a considerable amount of time searching for datasets and even had to resort to creating our own algorithm to compensate for the lack of sufficient data.

In the process of developing this algorithm, we learned a great deal about mathematics and data analysis. We were able to use this knowledge to create a customized solution that was able to address the limitations of existing machine learning models.

We also learned a lot about web development, particularly in the areas of JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. We had to master these technologies to ensure that our website was both functional and visually appealing. Our efforts paid off as we were able to successfully integrate Leaflet, an interactive map library, into our website.

Overall, the development of SOUL was a tremendous learning experience for our team. We were able to build a useful tool that addresses an important societal issue, while simultaneously acquiring new skills and knowledge along the way.

What's next for SOUL

In the future, we aim to expand Soul to cover a wider range of cities and countries, with the goal of helping even more homeless individuals find shelter. We also plan to improve the algorithm by incorporating more factors that impact the homeless population, such as weather conditions and crime rates. Additionally, we plan to explore partnerships with local governments and organizations to gather more data and create stronger networks for supporting the homeless community. Finally, we aim to integrate Soul with other resources such as food banks, providing a comprehensive solution to individuals experiencing homelessness and food insecurity.

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