25 June 2019

GearedApp’s Eco-Hack

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GearedApp Team

Last week we held our first GearedApp Hackathon! This was an opportunity for our team to spend a full 2 days working together to build something new and explore areas they don’t usually have a chance to.

Our focus for the Eco-Hackathon was the environment. We asked everyone to come up with and prototype solutions that would make the most positive impact on the environment and their local community. Safe to say, they answered the brief!

Having done some polls on different ideas in advance, everyone ended up splitting into 2 groups: Team “CSSiesta” and Team “canunotwaste image 2 1” (this name comes with our obligatory Slack emojis).

After lot’s of polling for topics, in the end, both teams were attracted to the idea of solving the same problem – reducing waste. Both teams focused on helping people to find recycling points and/or eco-friendly or zero-waste establishments.

The idea:

“An app/PWA – map with places to recycle near me and what you can recycle and how to recycle and on top of that places where you can buy zero waste products, local farmers markets, zero waste shops, map of supermarkets that go zero waste or have recycling schemes”

The teams got to work and came up with 2 very different approaches, using available data sources and providing useful tools that can be used by anyone to reduce their carbon footprint.


Team Canunotwaste image 2 1

Team canunotwaste image 2 1 had a mixed background of mainly web app developers and some backend focus. For this reason, they were very excited about how they could use data and the web to create tools to help their users.

After some brainstorming, they came up with the following idea:

“An app similar to yellow pages (“Green Pages”) that only lists eco-friendly places like zero waste shops, community workshops, local farm markets”

The team was very ambitious. They used Google APIs to gather as many places that fit the criteria as possible and then massaged the data until it was usable for their use case. It’s worth pointing one learning from this was that doing thousands of calls, even in a hackathon environment, can be quite costly. We got a surprise bill from Google at the end of the event. Luckily Google were understanding and helped us with the bill!


The Result – The Green Pages PWA

The resulting Green Pages app ties in this massive data source into one directory. As a PWA (progressive web app) the app can be opened on a mobile device, saved to your home screen and accessed at any time easily (without having to build a native app). With different categories of listings, users can easily find local shops, restaurants and farms that are eco-friendly, and know they are making a positive impact.

What’s exciting about this is that the team created a data set and can now bring in more data from other API’s to further develop this app in the future.


Team CSSiesta

This team decided to take advantage of the chance to explore new technologies and took on an enormous challenge of building an app using a new technology, Flutter.
Flutter is Google’s cross-platform app development framework. As most of the team were mobile app developers, they had been dying to try it out.

Their idea was to create an app to help users in the Edinburgh area easily find recycling points, using the Edinburgh Council’s data source and extending our in-house CMS they created a tool that makes it super easy to manage all app content.

The team spent some time familiarising themselves with this new technology and style of coding, but this gave them a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the pros and cons of this development route.


The Result – Recycling/Zero waste App with Flutter

The end result was a functioning mobile app that tied in the data regarding local recycling points and allowed admin to add and remove information about local zero-waste shops and restaurants. The mobile app functions on both iOS and Android.

As this team used this as an opportunity to try a new technology, they kept functionality simple, but were still able to produce a fully functioning mobile app in 2 days, including maps and location features.

The platform also contains a bespoke admin dashboard, some of which was cleverly repurposed from a template that had been created for internal use by one of the team. The dashboard integrates with the app to populate all content instantly. This is a huge achievement in 2 days, when usually building an app with a functioning backend can take weeks or months.


And the winners are…

The deliberation between the 2 teams was difficult, as both had achieved so much with their 48 hours. In the end, team “canunotwaste image 2 1” took home the prize, with their “Green Pages” PWA with data set.

Going forward we can see the team joining forces further develop the Green Pages app and bring in elements from both projects. We hope to continue to work on this in the future, so watch this space!