This project was inspired by the need of PIANGO to have a platform which they can use to gather the voices of different Pacific islands countries. The word talanga is a Tongan word which translate to the discussions of ideas or issues. The logo icon was chosen to signify the using of modern technology to conduct talanga amongst Pacific islands members.
What it does
The Talanga platform enables the members to post ideas or issues and other members can reply and leave their comments on a message thread that everyone can see and follow. Members can search the platform for older posts or documents, which can be done with in minutes. Each posts has the capability for members to subscribe to it where an email notification can be sent to that member if new comments are being made to that post. The platform also have a polling feature where a poll can be posted on a particular issue and each member can vote and the result can be viewed in just one mouse click. Documents can be uploaded and shared amongst the members. The system is user friendly and easy to use and manage because of it’s graphical interface and no coding required. The platform is secure because it does not allow anyone to register into it but rather, the administrator of the system (PIANGO) will be responsible for creating the user accounts of each Pacific island representatives. Taking to account the challenges of slow internet connections in some parts of our Pacific island countries and the high price for internet data, the system has a Lite version where it can help to load faster and not consuming much internet bandwidth. The system is also build to be mobile friendly so that members can easily access to it.
How I built it
Talanga platform is hosted on a cloud server running apache, PHP and MySQLi which is build on the backbone of myBB forum open source software. A database was build using MySQLi to gather user, posts, documents, polls and other information used by the system. An email server was also build on the same host to do the sending of email notifications to members. To ensure the security of the system, other security measures like anti-DDOS attack, anti-SPAM and CAPTCHA security was also installed and configured. Customisations of PHP files were done using visual studio codes and uploaded via FileZilla FTP to the cloud server.
Challenges I ran into
There we a lot of challenges that I faced during this project and one of them is trying to understand the problem statement. Given, that I mostly work on IT, the jargons and acronyms that PIANGO used was new to me and it took me a good amount to time to read up on it and try to understand the flow of data. Another major challenges for me was time. I completed this project on a solo mode and pushing to finish to the time limit was hard to manage. Having to decide which components of the prototype and documentations needed time was hard to accomplished. COVID-19 was also another challenge for me because I worked on this project while I was on quarantine and was feeling sick the whole time during the project. A lot of panadols and hot lemon drinks was consumed. Internet was another challenge that I faced. This was due to where I lived, it is located close to the capital and heavily populated so mobile data internet was slow throughout the day.
Accomplishments that I’m proud of
One of the accomplishments that I’m proud of is the mobile friendly feature of the platform. This is important because most people have their mobile phone with them most of the time. Members can save a shortcut of the platform on the homescreen of their phone and use it it just like a mobile app, without the need to take out a laptop or use a PC. This will help PIANGO and it’s members to answer questions or comments on issues on a timely manner. Another accomplishment that I’m proud of is being able to have the Lite feature. I know most Pacific island countries experience the same internet challenges that we have here in Tonga. Internet is not only slow at times but can also be pricey. Having the Lite Feature enable the platform to be loaded into your device in it’s minimal form, with only the necessary informations displayed. This feature is not only fast to load on bad internet connections but also it does not consume as much internet bandwidth when it is loaded with full stylings and capacity.
What I learned
At the end of this project, I had learnt the importance of incorporating of ICT technology to address communication issues. There are a lot of technology available out there, it is just a matter of finding the right one that suits the need. I had also learnt the importance of time management, to ensure that time are allocated to the most important parts first and not leaving things to the last minute. It is important to always keep in mind the target audience of the project that you are developing to ensure that it is feasible for them to use.
What's next for the Talanga Platform
The next step for Talanga is to be able to have a proper mobile app for it. More work is needed to be done in terms of future development which includes social media integration into Talanga where members can forward posts from the platform to another members Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Viber or others. It is also believed that incorporating of SMS notification can be beneficial for timely response.