The inspiration for this project comes from our shared desire to support the health care workers. Our primary objective through this platform is to provide an Airbnb alternative for the front line workers. Being in a high-risk category, finding a place to temporarily stay to keep their families and community safe should not be another hassle for them. Secondly, this platform creates incentives for the landlords to have consistent renters. In these uncertain times, the workers are getting employed and paid, so they will definitely pay the rent for these properties. This creates a healthy supply and demand to be used in the practical atmosphere of this global pandemic.
In short, COVID-19 has created a marketplace for secluded housing.
That is why we bring you 'Soteria'. Just like the name, Soteria, which signified the goddess of safety in Greek mythology, we are here to bring safety to medical workers. Our easy-to-use platform provides shelters that can be rented out during the pandemic. Our web application can protect the housing market from completely collapsing while protecting the heroes who are carrying our communities through these unprecedented times.
What it does
Soteria addresses the immediate need for housing for frontline workers. To begin with, a user can securely log in/sign up to our platform either as a ‘Covid Warrior’ or a ‘Landlord’. Upon logging in for the Front Line Worker, one can search the houses at any location by entering suburb or city. Then they are served with all the available housing options along with photos of them. Upon clicking any of those housing options, the user can see more information about them like the Rent, Location, Additional Notes, Contact of the property owner.
On logging in as the Landlord, one can view all the houses/units that he has posted. The user can add even more properties along with images to bring a more visually appealing ad and increase customer confidence.
Additional Features: We have an amazingly comprehensive chatbot which asks information from the user and generates user-specific advice regarding their health and wellbeing
COVID Info Page: Along with supporting health care workers, we aim at providing reliable information on COVID. The COVID page contains info about the symptoms, causes, prevention, and more regarding the pandemic.
Health care workers, also known as "COVID Warriors", on our platform are able to search houses at any particular location. They can access rentals that are strictly available to them and landlords are able to guarantee that their rentals are being put into use with consistent cash flow. Once entering the platform, the user is given the option to 'log in' or 'sign up'. The user is able to register as a "COVID Warrior" if they are a health care worker giving them access to exclusive rentals available to them in the location that was searched upon. This provides the user with several rentals with each including the location, price and images to better analyze. If interested, the user is able to then contact the landlord. If the user is a landlord, they can follow the same registration process and indicate their "landlord" title. This provides the landlord access to their personalized dashboard that shows their rentals. The landlord will be given the option to add rentals through the dashboard while providing all the necessary information (i.e location, photos, etc.).
How we built it
There were several different tools that were used to build this project. Our platform is a full-stack web application that is through the use of Python framework Django. For the database, we used SQLite. Moreover, we used the Materialize CSS to speed up the style aspect of the project. In a team of 4, we tried to divide the work as evenly as possible as follow:- Aditya Goyal - Handled the Django framework and rendering of templates. Also added tests and Continuous Integration/CD with TravisCI for a more robust product. Turja - Maintained the database and file handling. Roan Numan - Created the data for the chatbot. Handled the Front end of the project Ankitha - Got reliable information for the website. Worked with the Maps API
In the end, we all unified the feel of the website, especially the front end. This allowed our web application to have a consistent structure throughout each page. The Django framework enabled our web application to have a well-maintained database that stored secure profile information, images, and location information. Secondly, we used CSS/HTML to structure and design the platform with relevant information. In regards to the design of our platform, we also used Materialize CSS. Thirdly, we used ChatBot to create an interactive method for users to ask questions regarding COVID19 and access our platform's resources. Fourthly, we used Figma to design and create a prototype, allowing our team to visualize the platform. Finally, we used Github to work on the platform together and make the necessary changes throughout the hackathon.
Challenges we ran into
Given that the project was divided equally among all the members so almost all the problems we each faced separately. Aditya Goyal - After gathering information about how to make the app more reliable, he stumbled upon testing. Although, he dreaded testing because it did not seem to provide immediate value to the code, soon he learned how much it is used throughout the industry and that he should get comfortable with it to become a professional developer.
Turja - As the database grew, I noticed that some model fields are missing or not being entered correctly. I had to learn how Django uses models which took me more than an hour. I also learned how to properly navigate through Github. This allowed me to correctly contribute to the team while ensuring that there were limited merge conflicts. I also struggled to use the Mapbox API. I had to break down the code to ensure that I understood what each line entailed. There were many moments where I referred to online searches for answers and I found myself being able to ask better questions as I progressed.
Roan - Getting accustomed to the chatbot was a challenge for me. I had a little trouble with creating navigation for the statements & responses that would be made by the chatbot. It was also my second time using GitHub to push & pull the front-end code I made, so I was still unfamiliar with that process as well.
Ankitha - Had very little previous experience with HTML and CSS, so there was a huge learning curve in creating the info pages and integrating the map object into the HTML pages. Additionally, there were some difficulties in enabling specific features in the Mapbox HTML, so we used external libraries to combat this.
The challenges that we faced were unique to each component that was added to the project. For the front-end aspect of this website, it was important to initialize the design using CSS/HTML. For the ChatBot, we faced issues creating a flow of the questions. It was important for us to have a concise path of questions that allows the quest
What we learned
- By working in a team on a project like this, we got to know the iterative nature of development. It turns out that nothing is perfect straight outside the box, at least in application development.
- We learned to effectively divide the tasks for different people. The trick being, discuss and plan beforehand. Find the person most comfortable with the requirement. Furthermore, trusting your teammates also plays a huge role.
- Consistent and constant communication was crucial to our project. As we were located in 3 different time zones, 3 different countries and 4 different schools - we learned to virtually communicate with ease.
- It was important for us to collaborate on different areas of knowledge and learn from each other. This all started when we implemented the map API into the platform, each member provided advice as to how it should be done for the best use. Another example is when we took breaks to discuss topics outside of the hackathon, getting to know our interests and career advice.
- Each member also learned about a specific field of interest for the following project. As we all interacted with different tools, we learned about new ideas for future projects and ways to improve the ones that are currently in progress (i.e. Django framework, ChatBot, etc.).
What's next for Soteria
Moving forward, we greatly believe Soteria is a platform that can greatly impact the lives of front line workers. We recognize that there are improvements that need to be made, but this current platform well establishes our objective. In order to improve the user experience of Soteria, we plan to use more interactive Maps API, more functionality / improved design and continuous integration / continuous deployment of additional features. We also want to elevate our platform by using machine learning technology that customizes to each user directly, providing recommendations accustomed to their liking. With scaling our platform, we would like to provide a firm authentication service so that the data of our users, both warriors and landlords, are protected.