There are many people in third world countries (such as many African countries) that lack many needs. They may have problems with education, agriculture, and health. Many of these problems could be solved through searching on the internet. However, there is a lack of internet in such countries resulting in a shortage of information among the people of those countries. Their phones may also be incompatible with internet due to the price of smartphones.
We want to design a system that is compatible with both simple old mobile phones and smartphones. One feature that we realized is that sms is compatible with most if not all mobile phones. We thought that if we can make a platform that allows people to ask and answer questions, then we can help those people be able to see more information. Information is power!
What it does
Currently, this project can receive and process simple texts and classify them into different categories. People can ask questions, they can answer questions that other people had asked. On the mobile platform, the user texts commands to a specific number in order to get responses and information. The texts will end up at our server and the server will process the commands and return whatever information necessary. The server will respond to different commands differently. Everything on the mobile platform will be done through sms and there is no app needed.
On the computer platform, a user could use a browser to go tho the website and browse though and ask questions. They could also look at the answers to certain questions.
How we built it
We used a variety of technology to make our project possible. At the core of our system, we used Twilio. It processes and converts text messages into Posts in PHP so that we can successfully obtain data at our servers. We also use Twilio to send our sms messages. We mostly used PHP in our server because it is easy to integrate with Twilio. Other than that we used mySQL to store data about the questions and answers, along with the users.
Challenges we ran into
The biggest challenge is time. We only had 27 hours to complete this project.The length of the project did not help either. There is a lot of detailed functionalities. We needed to manage the Database and make the website. We also needed to test out twillio, as we had trouble signing up for it.
Another challenge would be our unfamiliarity with PHP. We didn't have much prior experience with PHP, we often ended up using many hours just to fix one little bug. I often forget to add the "$" sign in front of the variables. Much time was lost to fixing grammatical errors.
Accomplishments that we are proud of
We are proud of the fact that this application works. It is capable to reciting texts and sending texts. We are also proud of being able to use sms messages in order to command a site remotely. We never did such a thing before so it is very very challenging.
What we learned
We learned about how to effectively solve problems. When we experienced problems, we either looked them up, or we asked each other. We would come together to solve large problems because it applies to everyone.
The Commands to text the service is the following:
lg: list group
query: Question list a quesiton
ans: Answer a question
lq: list questions
la: list answers
next: next item
fg: follow a group
fq: follow a quetion
create: create a group