Geofeedia Hackathon 2016

Posted July 25th, 2016

The Geofeedia development team recently met at the company headquarters in Chicago to compete in an internal hackathon. The contest involved coming up with an idea that could supplement the current Geofeedia platform, developing the software, and then presenting the projects that we built for the entire company within 48 hours. To make things even more interesting, every employee within Geofeedia was a judge for the hackathon, allowing voters to choose winners based off various criteria.

The Hackathon Experience

Marwan Nakhaleh, a software engineering intern at Geofeedia, has won and competed in hackathons in the past. Marwan thought the company hackathon was exciting and unique since it was 48 hours long – about 12 hours longer than most hackathons he has attended. Nakhaleh also felt as though there was a bit more on the line at this hackathon, due to the fact that he was competing against talented and determined coworkers. At the end of the competition, everyone seemed impressed about the projects that were submitted.

The Projects

Geofeedia Go : A cross-platform, mobile application that uses augmented reality technology to allow users to see social media posts based off their current location. This was the winning project due to its completeness and well designed interface.

Topic Thunder : A service that uses NLP and TitanDB to effectively predict and suggest topics that a specific Geofeedia user would like to filter by. Since most posts don’t contain keywords or hashtags, this is a very useful tool that can analyze any type of text within a post.

Facial Recognition POC: A proof of concept that tested the top facial recognition services that could be integrated into the Geofeedia platform in order to find people of interest in the posts in our database.

User Finder: A service that uses Spark, a technology that allows one to use the MapReduce paradigm in memory, in order to join two tables together that could allow our clients to create very particular audiences for advertising purposes.

Mobile Streamer POC : A mobile application that provides similar functionality to the web based social media streamer that the platform currently supports.

Project Highlight: Twiliofeedia

Twiliofeedia was developedby Kevin Cheng, James Rathslag, and George Lambeth, three of the software engineering interns.

Twiliofeedia, incorporates SMS notifications into Geofeedia’s alert system. Whenever a user’s alert is hit, he will receive an email (already incorporated in the system) along with an SMS notification through Twilio (implemented by us). We chose this project because SMS notifications demand faster attention than regular emails do. Since alerts can often signal a bombing or shooting, we realized that Geofeedia needed a faster way of notifying its users.

On the front-end, we used AngularJS to create an input field that allows users to input their phone numbers into the web app. This phone number will be notified through SMS whenever alerts are hit. On the back-end, a Node.js server is constantly running to be notified of user alerts. When a new alert is hit, the server will send an SMS through Twilio to the user’s phone number...

-Kevin Cheng

In short, they augmented the current email notification service so that whenever it sends out an email, it will also send out an SMS notification to the desired parties. A new feature that could make Geofeedia more powerful.

Great Success

The hackathon was a fantastic learning experience where the development team got to experiment with new technologies in order to try and provide a better solution for our users.

By: Michael Khalil

If you are interested in seeing more highlights of these hackathon projects, continue following our blog.

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