As the College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) prepares for Philly Codefest 2018, the student team that brought home the Grand Prize at Philly Codefest 2017 have just released their app, Safe Travels, on both Google Play and the Apple app stores. Safe Travels “analyzes and presents crime incidents reported by Philadelphia Police Department in a meaningful manner,” helping people who may be unfamiliar with Philadelphia to avoid high-crime areas and allowing its users to confidently decide where to park their car, rent or buy a home, or travel in the city. The team behind Safe Travels during PhillyCodefest included Parth Bhoiwala, Satish Boggarapu, Graydon Briguglio and Michael DiCioccio (all Computer Engineering students). Following their victory at Codefest, Bhoiwala, Boggarapu and DiCioccio continued to work together to develop Safe Travels into a market-ready application.
When the friends heard about Philly Codefest, they were eager to participate. None of them had taken part in a hackathon before, and they were looking forward to taking their programming skills outside of the classroom. In the weeks leading up to Philly Codefest, they started brainstorming in between classes. Bhoiwala expressed to his teammates that, being unfamiliar with Philadelphia, he felt uncomfortable walking outside of Drexel’s campus boundaries. Like many university students, he sometimes found himself walking home from class late at night and wished there were a way for him to know which areas of the city were safe. “We investigated the app market for apps like this and couldn’t find any that solved the problem, which prompted us to look for an application programming interface that offered crime data in Philly,” Bhoiwala explained. “It just so happened that the Philadelphia Police Department offered one.”
During the 36-hour hackathon, the team developed a prototype application for Safe Travels. The judges enjoyed the simplicity of the design and believed in the potential the application offered for future development and the benefits it offered to the citizens of Philadelphia. Now that the app has been published, the trio of developers hopes that it will start being utilized by the Philadelphia Police Department and students at other universities in Philadelphia.
In its current state, Safe Travels only supports crime data from the city of Philadelphia, but the team of three hopes to continue working together and eventually expand to other metropolitan areas like New York City and Chicago. They also hope to add more features to the app and integrate it with other safety services like Drexel Guardian. As the members of the team look forward to graduation, they hope to keep working together and building technology that leaves a positive impact on society. When asked how they would describe Philly Codefest to someone who has never attended, the team expressed enthusiasm. “For someone who has never been to a hackathon before, we highly recommend going — not just for the prizes, but for the chance to exercise your creative imagination and believe in yourself as a developer,” Bhoiwala said.
Philly Codefest 2018 will take place April 14-15, 2018 in the Daskalakis Athletic Center. The theme for Philly Codefest 2018, computing for social good, encourages participants to develop novel applications and tools to impact a variety of challenges affecting the Greater Philadelphia area and beyond.