ViaPool

An app that connects people with similar commutes to school/work in order to make carpooling easier and more accessible.

By Aditya Ohri and Frank Ye

Inspiration

Air pollution and traffic are two common problems that have arose in the past few decades, with a rapid increase in the number of cars on the road. A viable solution to this is carpooling, especially during your daily commutes, but this option simply isn't used by too many, mainly because it's often inconvenient and inaccessible. That's why we created a platform to connect users to others with similar commutes, in order to facilitate easier and more accessible carpooling.

What our solution does

Our solution is an app, where the user enters his/her details including home address, workplace, and the radius in which he/she is willing to find a carpool companion. The app engine filters users that meet these requirements (the distance from the user's and potential match's start and endpoints must be within the given radius) and presents potential matches to the user. The user can then connect with these matches and hopefully start carpooling!

How it was created

We wrote code for a client and code for a server to connect to. The client GUI was created using PyQt5. Using HTML, CSS, and Javascript, we were able to embed Google Maps. The server was created using Python's built-in http.server to communicate with the client an Google Maps API wrapper to calculate distances between users.

Challenges we faced

We faced an abundance of challenges whether they were technical or not. At first, there were several disagreements finalizing the idea, with the overall functionality and design of the app. After we got past the idea and design stage, we experienced dozens of technical difficulties. Firstly, there were many issues with our early attempts to embed Google Maps into PyQt. Neither of us knew Javascript which complicated the problem. Secondly, Google Maps quietly rate-limited some of our geocode requests. This was solved by using the API more efficiently.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We're pretty proud of what we accomplished in 24 hours, as despite all the technical setbacks, we were able to get a functioning app demo to work. Even though the technical challenge of developing the solution was significantly higher than we originally anticipated, this demo is very close to our original design and planned features. We believe this is a creative and useful solution that can solve the underlying problems that too many cars on the road have caused.

What we learned

We learned a lot about new technologies/coding languages that we weren't at all familiar with prior to this challenge including HTML, JavaScript, and the Google Maps API. However, the learning experience was far greater than new technical knowledge, as we first-hand experienced the power of teamwork to overcome dozens of setbacks and challenges, and deliver an effective solution under pressure in 24 hours. Just over this 24 hour period, our problem-solving and collaboration skills have immensely grew.

What's next for ViaPool

We envision a future in which ViaPool will be used by people across the globe for convenient access to sustainable transportation.

Built With

  • python-html-javascript-google-maps-pyqt
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