Trip Sharing Platform
Jingya Wu, Jordan Faith, Lucas Gregory, Sienna Mosher
This project was raised initially to solve the problem of tracking national parks that the client has visited. Later on the client expended the problem to a trip sharing platform through which users can create, share, and complete lists of places to visit and is not limited to national parks any more. To be accessible this platform should be on the web and also mobily accessible. There have been many attempts at this type of software solution, but only marginal success stories. This leaves a market gap for us. The final deliverable should be a fully functional platform that can be used to log and share places as well as potentially creating lists of places for users to interact and compete with each other.
To solve the problem identified above, we propose that the solution should at least be a mobile app, and ideally also a web application to complement the mobile version. The mobile app should include location service to enable users to check in at different places. The app also need to integrate Google Maps and utilizes its APIs to retrieve popular places. To be successful this needs to be a social travel network. This entails allowing users to login through their Facebook and/or Gmail accounts so that they can interact with their friends much easier, as well as allowing users to post to Facebook via the travel app. The mobile version is necessary because users need to check-in at places they visit, and we cannot expect them to bring a laptop wherever they go. The web application can complement the mobile app to provide a better exploring and viewing experience of trips and lists created by others. Every user will have a travel list comprised of their travel history, as well as the option to make lists for specific areas, wish lists, and more. Another great feature would be to have locals compile public lists of all the must-visit spots in the area. The basic structure of this application for both the mobile end and the web will include: a database for users’ account information, back-end algorithms to display the most relevant places/lists, as well as a clean and user-friendly front-end interface that can attract users as a new application.
The biggest challenge in this app is going to be organization. There are similar apps out there that attempt some of the proposed functionality, but the user interface is complicated, unorganized, and renders many features useless. Much of development will need to be spent finding the best organization to categorize locations, present the data, and lower overhead for users. Another issue is that this app needs users as much as the users need the app. If the locations are all created by users, the app starts with zero locations. It may be beneficial to internally create a base list of locations in order to overcome this challenge. In addition, this project will be built from scratch, meaning that as a team we need to decide on what languages and frameworks to use, and thus must keep in mind the current knowledge of all team members as well as the learning curve of learning new stuff. This is especially relevant to this project since we might need to develop on Android, iOS, and web, and this can be challenging.
Risks and Rewards
Currently there is no existing way to track and share places visited. This application can promote the traveling industry as traveling can become more rewarding for some people when they have a checklist to complete or when they are competing with someone else. This application, if in good use, can also give visitors to a local village good recommendations on where the good attractions and/or restaurants are for visiting. It can also empower locals to show the world the best things to do in their city. One issue that may arise is moderation. If we have a list representing a city that anyone of the city can add to, there may be some ill fitting locations added that are private residences, fake places, and/or places that seek to gain popularity through this app. Some moderations may be required, and this risk can be minimized by creating a rating system for locations lists and users who are publishing the lists, as well as by implementing an algorithm that recommends valuable and accountable lists to the users.
Overall, this is a fantastic idea and is reasonable to implement given the time and resources constraints. This application will be instrumental for travelers, who now have a place to log, share, and enthuse about their travel experiences. With the proposed features (places logging and sharing, list creating, etc) and external resources (Google Maps, Facebook, Google account) integrated, we can see a successful product that nothing else in the market has in common.