Looking at the future of urban environments, we realized that the unprecedented growth in urbanization that is taking place right now is happening so fast that innovation within cities cannot keep up. As urban populations are becoming more and more concentrated, problems such as congestion, pollution, energy consumption, and failing infrastructure are becoming increasingly important.
What it does
Strada provides a digital marketplace for urban planners, large companies, and small businesses to purchase low-cost demographic and foot traffic data in an urban environment. Traditional methods of producing this data include manual market research and are costly, inefficient, and limited in the amount of data they can provide. Strada, however, collects the data directly from users, providing reliable, accurate information for companies to leverage for strategic urban development.
The way it works is simple. Users pair their IoT Strada device to their phones, inputting as much demographic data as they are willing to provide. They then stick the device hidden away in a backpack, purse, or briefcase and forget about it. When they are on their commute to work or out around town, strategically placed Strada beacons will detect their proximity and log their data securely and anonymously on the cloud.
Companies looking to purchase this data can visit the Strada marketplace and order by location, timeframe, and demographic information fields. When a transaction is made, we leverage the IOTA Tangle network to securely divide the payment out to the actual users who provided it.
How we built it
The product we built relies on three technologies: the connected hardware device, the front-end platform, and our back-end API. For the hardware device, we used a Raspberry Pi as our beacon, which detects Estimote Bluetooth transmitters to collect user information. On the Pi, we used Node.js to record user data and send it to our MongoDB database.
For the front-end platform, we used React and Maps API to provide a seamless user experience design that will allow companies looking to purchase Strada data to view the data by location, foot traffic over time, or view a report of the aggregated data at a given beacon.
On the back-end, we used Node.js to host our web server and built a web API using Express. We also incorporated the IOTA Tangle network for making secure, anonymous, low-volume transactions from the companies buying the data to the users they are buying it from.
Challenges we ran into
The biggest challenge we ran into was integrating the IOTA tangle network into our platform. Because we were dealing with such low-volume transactions (frequently less than $0.01), we felt it was necessary to find a means of sending and receiving that money without any transaction fees. However, it ended up being very difficult implementing this cryptocurrency into our project because it is so new.
What we learned
As two software developers, we learned a lot about the hardware component of internet-connected devices, and about the complexity and application of distributed ledgers such IOTA. When testing out our initial product, we had to test out many different Bluetooth frameworks to accurately detect nearby devices. We learned how to better integrate hardware and software together to create a cohesive product. We also learned an amazing amount about the IOTA Tangle network and the underlying tech behind the network. This gave us a better understanding of the world of cryptocurrencies and the innovative power they have for every sector of the industry.
What's next for Strada
We see Strada taking huge strides in the future of data transactions. Rather than focusing on the manufacture and sale of IoT components for our network, we plan to build out our backend API to provide a framework for individual and corporate developers to build IoT data retrieval devices on. This would not only incentivize companies to innovate in the sensor space, but it would incentivize users directly invest in unique sensors, giving them a higher return on their data through our marketplace. In the end, we want our network to provide the foundation for a user-centered network of data retrieval so as to fuel innovation in cities, creating more efficient, clean, and sustainable environments for the future.