At the 2017 Itree ‘ShipIT’ (hackathon), I was part of a team of engineers, testers and analysts in creating a prototype product that could help citizens in their day to day lives reporting incidents to authorities, while allowing authorities to see these incidents in real time and appropriately respond.
The team leader/captain, during the recruitment phase (in trying to get us to join) pitched us the following problem to solve:
“Imagine one day you see a suspicious person, a robbery, a car accident, rubbish being dumped, or a cigarette tosser, etc. Who do you need to contact to report the incident? Which number do you call, email address to use or form?”
He presented a real world problem with a potential real world solution that we can try and implement. In my eyes I could see people using this, it would make their life so much easier when they see a problem and can easily report it without the need of jumping through numerous hoops and not knowing whether their report has been actioned on by the respective authority.
However we only had 12 hours to implement this solution; while also knowing that there were already applications out there that do what we wanted (partially) to achieve, we needed to create something better. It was game on, and this fuelled our desire to try and change how citizens report incidents and problems across Australia along with the co-operation of the respective authorities being the local or state councils to emergency services.
The project was split into two main technological areas:
- Mobile Application
- Cloud Hosted Web Service
The mobile application was built for Android and would be the citizen’s go to, one stop shop where they would be able enter in the incident information and have it routed to the correct authority. The application was built using Java and XML, the dependencies managed with Gradle and the code base managed using Git. Two Open Source APIs were used to aid in the development which include Butter Knife and Retrofit.
I was part of the mobile application team, as I had some previous experience experimenting with Android application development. As we all contributed and played a role in the development, my main contribution however was the UI design on the home page/view and the functionality of the create and edit of the incident reports ready to be sent to the service.
To get a better understanding of the mobile application experience here is a breakdown of the mobile application’s functionality:
- Create new incident reports to be sent to the service used by the authorities using information that is either stored on the phone, gathered from various sensors on the phone or user input.
- View and/or edit any incident reports that the user has sent away to the service to ensure it has been seen and is being actioned or to provide further information to ensure that proper action can be taken on the incident report.
The first screenshot (left) shows the very first screen the user is presented with when the application is launched. They can create an account to use the application or login using an account already created.
The second screenshot (middle) shows the main page that can either show a list of incident reports the user has provided or a map with all the incident report locations. From this screen, the user can also create incident reports.
The third screenshot (right) shows how a user would be populating the information for an incident report before sending the incident report to the service. Standard information will be auto filled such as the date and time, and the location of the incident.
Current Implementation Limitations
We only had 12 hours, but what we accomplished that day laid the platform for an application from the team at Itree to revolutionise the way citizens of Australia report incidents with the aide of the appropriate authorities.
Currently the mobile application does not support video as a valid media attachment to the incident report and the user account functionality was only mocked up to showcase what the final product may look like.
The web service that the authorities would log into was partially mocked. Due to the timeframe no effort was made to limit what type of incidents were to be shown to the user logged in, and there was no way to report back to the mobile user whether their incident report was being actioned on, needed further clarification or some other action. However in saying all of that the web service did correctly handle the insertion of incident reports into the MongoDB database and present the location on the map that was provided using Google Maps.
I am very proud of the team I was apart of, each member brought their own strengths and ideas, culminating into a solution that even the judges thought was fantastic. SAFER won the “Best Solution Award” at ShipIT 2017. For more information about the event, videos and pictures please see this link and if you would like to know more information about the project please feel free to send me an email.