In the era of social media, it is easy for an individual to repost a petition and share information on their account. But how much of a difference do these actions make, and are they truly helping a cause or are they inadvertently spreading misinformation about it?
Information about social justice issues on social media lacks credible sources and is scattered. People’s need for quick and efficient information does not grant most users the patience to verify information themselves . This means that when people repost something on social media, there’s a fair chance that the information isn’t correct. In the cases where it is, the posts gain traction for a short period of time before the movement is forgotten from people’s mind again.
Our team drew inspiration from the disconnect between user’s actions on social media and the impact of these actions. We sought to create an app that maximized user’s actions in a quick and efficient way, while ensuring users are properly educated about movements before they undertake any helpful tasks to further a cause. This ultimately led to the birth of Tora.
What it does
Tora takes a task-based approach to give users a clear idea of ways they can support movements and maximize the impact of their actions.
When users sign up for Tora, they are able to pick and follow social justice movements that they are interested in. Tora provided users with a task list and the duration associated with those tasks for each movement. From there, TORA provides users with a roadmap that helps users become well-informed on the movement and take actions that are both responsible and impactful.
We believe the best way to become informed about social justice issues is through research and discussion. The admins of a movement are able to share articles and other sources of information on Tora with the participants to discuss. These articles will be fact-checked first via algorithms to ensure their sources are credible, allowing users a fair foundation to make their decisions. In future development, we plan to introduce a forum page where users can discuss and share their opinions about articles and other sources of information. By participating in these discussions, users can sharpen their judgement and gain additional insight into the movement.
After they’re caught up on the movement, users are guided through different tasks to support a movement, such as signing petitions and contacting relevant officials. Each task rewards a different amount of energy points, which they can accumulate to reach different levels of participation within the app (e.g. Novice Activist, Intermediate Activist and more).
How we built it
After conducting extensive market and user research, we developed wireframes in Figma to map out the UI Design for our application. From there, we used Android Studio and GitHub to handle the technical aspects of the app.The main programming languages we used were Java and XML.
Challenges we ran into
When we first started off in Android Studio, our team struggled to figure out the right tools and view groups to use that would be appropriate for Tora. This was a trial-and-error process that we were able to overcome with time and research.Our project UI was very tedious to create, and as the project progressed we learned how to make our UI match our stunning design. Some problems we faced was fixing the view display so it displayed properly on our devices. In the backend, we were having some trouble setting up the interactions between the activities, and sharing user information between activities.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were able to pull through and complete this project while learning so much along the way! We were able to try out a new development platform that was completely new to all of us, and we still pulled through and were able to construct it.
What we learned
We learned many things during this hackathon, from the design aspect, to the technical aspects! One thing we learned was that designers need to take technical constraints into consideration while designing for an app. Especially given limited time, over-complex designs can take up a lot of time to rework or implement. From the backend, we had learned how to set up an Android app, and link it to a firebase real time database, as well as how to implement the feature authentication.
What's next for Tora
Due to our lack of experience, this project was definitely on the simpler side, however our team is interested in continuing the development of Tora after the hackathon. For the purpose of the hackathon, our team focused on developing essential elements of an average participant’s user interface. After the hackathon, we hope to develop additional pages for participants, such as a forum page, and add more features to existing pages. In addition, we hope to create/modify our interface to accommodate admins for TORA, which would allow reputable activists to set out tasks and resources for participants within the app. Security is also a big next-step. Activism right now can be dangerous (even in Canada), where organizers have been known to be harassed for setting up movements, and other campaigns. We hope to add strong security aspects to this app to provide users with a safe and proactive community through our forums.