The thriving tech community across the state of Vermont recently came together for a 24-hour Hackathon called HackVT, an event focused on challenging programming enthusiasts to develop an app from scratch in the span of a single day. This year’s theme was, “Undiscovered Vermont.” For this topic, participants were given access to a collection of more than two dozen data sets for the state of Vermont, from meteorological data, to traffic data, elevation, carbon emissions, natural and historical features, and outdoor recreational sites.
Team Galenerd’s comprised of Galen Technical Consultants, Missy Westland, Eric Rainville, and myself, focused intently on answering the question of, “what is undiscovered Vermont?” The app created by the team was designed to assist people to get outside and be active and healthy, in new locations that are rarely “discovered.” What does that mean? Well, plenty of people know about the same parks and hiking trails that have been visited countless times, but the Green Mountain State holds a vast amount of beautiful places. The app aims to lead people to be interested in getting outdoors to new locations that haven’t been so discovered. By cross referencing the extensive set of locations listed in the Outdoor Recreation Sites, Hiking Trails, and Roadside Historical Locations with the data in Google Maps/Places APIs, the team generated a list of destinations that have a low number of reviews on Google Places or don’t even exist at all on Google Maps, in other words, places that are fairly unknown.
The “Discover VT” application begins by displaying a topographical 3D map of Vermont highlighting the state’s mountains and bodies of water. Assuming a user is in Vermont, their location is picked up by the app’s geolocation technology, and it gets to work. Querying the Vermont data sets for destinations near the user’s location, and then cross referencing them in Google Maps/Places by the number of reviews. If the destination exists in Maps, the app is able to recommend to the user a set of trails, parks, fishing, swimming, or picnic areas that are relatively undiscovered. Once the user visits a location for the first time in an app, they can place their flag, marking the location as “Discovered.”
The team planned to have given directions to the location selected by the user based on GPS coordinates, but focused on implementing the main features in the 24 hour period. Another planned feature was the ability for users to send reviews, pictures, and “create location” to Google Maps, for places that do not yet exist in Google.
Vermont is known for its natural beauty, but it can still be easy to stay inside on the couch if you don’t feel like there is anything new to go see. The Discover VT app developed at HackVT aims to help people get outside and be excited about finding new places and fun activities. The team plans to keep the idea going and to share the code base with Code VT to perpetually learn and share, one of Galen’s 5 Main Things! Check out all the presentations from this year’s HackVT on their website!
If you’re interested in being apart of a team who learns, grows, and has fun together, check out our current jobs listings, or contact us below with any questions: