Many Africans and people living in the developing world have little to no access to key information and news due to the high cost of data in these regions. This high data cost cuts off people from vital live changing information that could help with their civic duties (i.e. politics), day to day decision making and warnings/alerts (e.g. Storm Alerts or Frost/Hail warnings for farmers. But many of these people keep in touch using messaging platforms such as Messenger Lite and WhatsApp. So we have built a way for news organisations with WordPress sites to deploy their own low cost to free Messenger News Bot with just a few clicks.
What it does
Sourcebot is an open source platform that indexes a user's WordPress blog/news site whenever an article is published and makes their entire corpus of articles searchable and accessible from a facebook messenger bot for free. This platform can be deploy with a few clicks and no coding ability. Giving users a more data efficient and accessible platform to read news the moment its published.
How I built it
It was built using PHP, PostgreSQL, Elasticsearch for indexing and quick searches, and it ingests information from news articles using a WordPress plugin. We have also set a deploy process based on the Heroku platform that starts off as free and will only be charged with high usage of the bot. No frameworks where used to make a more stable deployment process.
Challenges I ran into
Its a time consuming project but I enjoy the work so that a mute point.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Its the first bot that I have see that gives users access to complete articles and not just snippets, it can be deployed with no programming knowledge and even has it even has a dashboard to customize and track the bots usage.
What I learned
I learned more about Facebook's Messenger Platform, Elasticsearch, about the lack of access to news in the developing world, the democratization of information, how it can save lives and improve quality of life.
What's next for Sourcebot
Daily news alerts through subscriptions service Key information searches such as local weather info, market prices etc. Better Bot Usage data and analytics More customization options