As average American citizens, we don’t always have time to keep up with our state and local representatives. Its too hard to understand the complex dependencies of politics while also maintaining our daily lives. Every day, congressional representatives meet to vote on the future of our lives in this country. Important votes on topics such as gun control, the environment, and even net neutrality are often prone to corruption from campaign funds and special interests. To counter this, we have built an iOS app as well as a web app that not only show you who your local representatives are, but who they really stand with.

What it does

Who Owns Who is both an iOS app and a web app that feature a minimalist card UI that first prompts the user for their address or location. This data is then run through multiple API’s such as the Google Civic Information API, which uses location data to map your representatives on the local, state, and national level. These representatives are then run through a database that analyzes voting records and Super Political Action Committee (PAC) donations. The user can then use this information to better understand how special interests and corporations are the driving force of legislation in this country.

How we built it

We actually built two platforms as a challenge to ourselves because our team comes from a wide variety of backgrounds and programming skill sets. We used the Swift programming language in Xcode to build the iOS app and used web development languages (HTML, CSS, and Javascript) to build the web app. We also used API’s such as the Google Civic Information API, OpenSecrets’ API, and the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) API.

Challenges we ran into

In the beginning, we actually had a different idea that we pivoted from when we decided that it wasn’t viable. Building two separate platforms is already complex and the challenges we ran into were no less intricate. The OpenSecrets’ API was out of date and required a lot of refactoring for it to even partially work. The data we were accessing was difficult to manipulate when parsing JSON. This led to several challenges such as our apps loading poorly and sometimes even crashing. Getting HTTP requests to work in Javascript was a nightmare because we had difficulty to dynamically inject the data into HTML.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud to have learned how to parse JSON and manipulate this data to call even more API’s. HTTP requests were also something that we learned in multiple programming languages. We used all of these skills to successfully implement the Google Civic Information API in our apps.

What we learned

Anybody can go to a hackathon and learn a new language or start a new project. We are proud to have learned how to work together as a cohesive unit while also navigating the intricacies of politics. We used what we learned about politics and teamwork to further our understanding of what means to be Computer Scientists.

What's next for Who Owns Who (WOW)

Who Owns Who can one day use machine learning to predict how politicians will vote towards a particular bill or legislation. Knowing how our government will act ahead of time can help better prepare us to make informative decisions before our government makes those decisions for us. This information will be valuable to millions of people who want to change their country for the better.

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