As global COVID-19 health restrictions begin to relax in many countries, public spaces now seem to be home to comically long lineups. Restaurants, washrooms, and even essential businesses are now hardly accessible due to long wait times and lowered indoor capacities.
Our goal is to motivate civilians to safely explore new places, without the unhygienic bustle of crowds and long lineups.
What it does
TimeLine takes crowd-sourced foot traffic data and specifically filters out establishments based on their current "busyness" levels.
Users enter their location, choose the type of establishment (restaurants, museums, aquariums, shops, etc.), and a radius to select from.
We only display currently open locations with real-time "busyness” and order them by their “busyness” in a fluid, beautiful web app built from the ground up for expandability and modularity.
How we built it
Our backend analyzes information about the popularity of locations at any given time using Google's Places and Geocoding APIs. Our site dynamically queries for this data by using Flask as a web framework and displays it in a grid layout. Front-end elements include HTML, CSS, and some JS, with Flask (which uses Python) connecting the front and Python back end.
Challenges we ran into
For all of us, this was our first time doing full-stack development. While we’ve worked on backend and frontend programs separately, we’ve never attempted to merge them together into a cohesive webapp. A lot of our time was spent learning how to use Flask and JS, and figuring out how we could adapt them to our use case.
We also didn’t have much experience with APIs, so figuring out the documentation and getting it to work was a big challenge. In addition, calls for the API were not free, so learning how to avoid $300 billing fees kept us on our toes :D
Accomplishments that we're proud of
For a first-time attempt at a full web app, we’re extremely proud of our UI/UX and the general look of our site. It’s clean, modern, and has a unifying design language that brings the entire project together. In addition, our site is fully functional and displays real-time data, giving it real-world applications in its current state.
For most of us, this is our first hackathon and the first time we worked on a full-stack project. The collaboration and work distribution that took place were quite exceptional. Though there were a few hitches, all of us thoroughly enjoyed the three days we spent together.
What we learned
As mentioned earlier, no one on our team has had experience in full-stack development. We spent a lot of time skimming through tutorials on 2x speed. We had to learn how to connect the front end and back end with Flask and learn to use Google APIs, both of which were new concepts for us.
What's next for TimeLine
Though initially inspired by COVID-19 and physical distancing, our app is designed to have lasting impacts far into the future. TimeLine adds another dimension to trip planning, one where adventures are also planned around local foot traffic and crowds. We hope to inspire users to explore new, local businesses while making lines a permanent thing of the past.
Our data is also dynamically updated to show current data as time passes, meaning TimeLine will never lose its relevance.