Inspiration

It has become a routine sight of young girls and boys, clad in school and college uniforms, roaming around the city, especially in parks at a time when their institutions are still open. Across the country, more and more university students are missing so many classes that they are academically at risk. With our country suffering from a considerably low literacy rate, the country’s youth is busy showing a non-serious attitude towards education, which is evident from their habit of bunking off their classes in educational institutions.

Upon inquiring students about the reason for missing/bunking classes and sitting in the cafeteria instead, we found out it’s either because of the possibilities of proxy attendance culture or they just can’t remember or track their class timings at about time and eventually end up missing the class. In some cases, they would complain about the teacher's teaching methods. While, on inquiring teachers about marking attendance and students' class participation, they said, in most classes, they just couldn’t take attendance as it’s a time taking process and have to end up not bothering about marking attendance. However, even if a student is taking the class, they are usually caught using their mobile phones.

The correlation between student attendance and eventual performance is well documented in the literature. Even with increasing access to compatible web-based resources or lecture recordings, traditional face-to-face classroom lectures are considered better at engaging the students with the content. Successful students are well aware of the importance of attendance. Yet absences are common in engineering lectures. Often a quarter of the students do not attend lectures. Frequent absences often result in subsequent academic hardship.

So to address the problem of chronic absenteeism, here we’re, presenting “THE BARRICADE” - Solving Chronic Absenteeism: A Problem Hidden in Plain Sight, through AI.

What it does

This app solves the problem of chronic intentional absenteeism by automating the attendance system by not only an AI-based face recognition but a proxy security check to ensure that you aren't marking proxy for your friend. It also helps prevent unintentional absenteeism by displaying students, the daily schedule of the classes along with time and venue. The app will notify the student, moments before their scheduled classes about the class and venue, to never be late again! While it is preferable to attend all lectures, sometimes, missing classes is unavoidable. And, for that purpose, our app also gives the option to students to track the classes of the same course in the next slot, so that they can't miss the lecture the same day. Once your timetable is added, you can add your campus friends to the app via email to find out when you and your friends share common free time together.

Demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9MIQP4TPRs

How we built it

User authentication is done through firebase auth to maintain user sessions, the user info is refreshed every 12 hours the first time the user marks attendance that is kept as a baseline for future inferences in firestore. When a user marks his attendance it is sent to the flask server compared with all the other embeddings in firestore after the system finds an embedding that's the closest to the baseline "did" of that user is sent to the nodejs server which holds the info about the classes and user sessions.

Tech Used:

Flutter, Firebase, Flask, TensorFlow, NestJs, and MongoDB

Challenges we ran into

The real challenge was to implement an accurate AI-based face recognition attendance system in real-time and that too while considering that students still can trick the system and proxy the attendance by the image of the student and not the student himself and existing methods do not work with Pakistani faces. But guess what, you can’t even mark the proxies anymore!

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Actually participating in this hackathon, and submitting our idea in the best form as we could. Applying a variety of skills that we learned throughout our degree ranging from Design Patterns, Computer Networks, Computer Vision, Data Structures and Algorithms.

What we learned

The most important thing we learned was that conceptualizing the idea can range from fairly little effort (slapping a brainstormed paper together and hoping it all works out on the fly) to a lot (focusing each aspect- design thinking, code, concept, etc.- and being prepared to make rolling changes) and that a lot of initial effort is better in the long run, improving both improving and learning, and decreasing the time spent correcting coding mistakes later on.

What's next for "The Barricade"

For the next big thing for "The Barricade", we are planning to not only help students track their attendance threshold but also automate sending a text message to parents if a student is absent or tardy. There’s a lot of new technology, like cellphones, that have undercut parent influence in socializing their children and increased peer influence. This restores a bit of parent’ ability to socialize their children in a very constructive way. Like a number of school apps that slice off symptoms of complex problems and tackle them as information deficiencies, however, "The Barricade" would also aim to raise questions about technologies that treat students more as subjects to be surveilled and analyzed than as participants in their own education by rewarding students for staying off the phone.

Other than that, as anyone who has ever worked in the corporate world knows, it’s easy to clock up a 9-5 day and get absolutely nothing done. Before computers were the office norm, you could probably stare into cubicle abyss all day, pretending to read memos. Now that a lot of ‘knowledge economy’ work is screen-based, it’s easy to track. You might be able to flick between Facebook and Powerpoint when your manager does a drive-by. But you can’t hide your idleness from your computer. It knows what you’re doing.

So as for now, as the "Barricade" focuses on student attendance monitoring and tracking tool, in a longer run, the same idea can be conceptualized to "Employee Monitoring" as employee tracking is a fair game—most companies get their employees to sign fair use agreements that explicitly acknowledge that employees shouldn’t assume privacy when they’re using work devices.

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