Safety on the Street: The 2017 All-Women Hackathon

Have you ever been harassed on the street?

That was the question of the day for my team and I last Saturday, when  I attended the 2017 All-Women Hackathon hosted by Expat Woman at Pivotal Lab. The Hackathon have 7 challenges, as listed in their Eventbrite:

  • Engage more Girls in STEM
  • End the Gender Gap in Tech
  • Women’s Empowerment
  • Women’s Safety
  • End Gender Violence
  • Teach Boys/Men to Respect/Empower Women
  • Help Immigrant/Refugee women Navigate the US

My team’s chosen challenge is Women’s Safety, and the project idea stemmed from the experience of our team members, when some random guy just started yelling at them outside the street Pivotal Lab. The incident motivated Grace to go up stage and pitch her ideas, which brought our team together, which consisted of Grace, Magda, Daminika, Anju, Steph, and I.

safe-route team
The Safe Route team, hard at work

Our project is a web app would let user to search their destination using the Google Map API, but instead of just seeing the route, they will also see safety ratings. The rating would be generated from a combination of crime data and user feedback, showing keywords that indicates incidents that occurred. Users would be able to filter and customized feedback result base on time of travel and gender. Upon research, I saw that SFPD have Socrata OpenData set up. With the combination of the OpenData and Google Map API, the path to map a safe route in real-time is not far!

To coordinate our pace, Grace took the advice from one of the hackathon mentor to set up a hourly timer, and I started to write a to-do list that will let our teammates assign themselves to different tasks. Even though I introduced myself as a front-to-full developer, interestingly I ended up working with Grace to establish the data parameters that the app will query.

Using a mix of skills in JSON, REST, SQL (for OpenData’s SoQL), and ES6 JavaScript, I programmed a script that will extract the needed data from OpenData. Grace got an Express server running to connect my script result to Dominika and Magda’s part of the program that deals with Google Map API.

Doing our initial brainstorming, deciding on the project’s direction and presentation content took a lot of discussion. Thankfully, we had a good group of mentors who would periodically come by to talk with us.

In the end, we were able to get a Google Slides set up, a demo video recorded, and time to rehearse our presentation, all in 11 hours! Somehow, I ended up being the presenter, which was a bit nervous-inducing. Thankfully, it went smoothly.

safe-route snapshot
Final Product of our web app, Safe Route

Overall, it was fun to work on the project with my teammates, and my experience at this hackathon was very satisfying. We didn’t win the physical prizes, but the experience was a prize of its own.