Although there is clear empirical data that the general public should wear face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19, many health authorities have told the general public not to buy face masks because there is already a shortage of masks for medical professionals. However, the general public does not need to wear clinical-grade face masks in order to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. Handmade face masks can also significantly reduce the spread of the disease, which is why we need #masks4all. The United States is currently in a critical period in the life cycle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and if we can act quickly and decisively by spreading a large amount of masks across the population, we can save many lives.
What it does
Our website helps connect people who've made masks with those that need them. Users can sign into our website, masks4all.net, and indicate that they have masks to share by placing a location marker down on the map. Nearby people can see these markers and then connect with the sharer on Facebook.
How we built it
We hosted the flask back-end on Elastic Beanstalk on AWS and hosted the react front-end on Google Firebase. For our database (to store map markers and users) we used MongoDB.
Challenges we ran into
Since we wanted our website to go live as soon as possible, in order to start gaining real users, we had to configure many DNS settings, SSL certificates, and routing between the different domains that we were using for our project.
Originally, we planned to host both the front-end and the back-end on AWS, but we ran into many issues deploying our react app on Elastic Beanstalk even though it worked locally. Finally, after several hours of trying to figure out why we were getting one particular error, we decided it would be best to try to deploy using an entirely different platform and got a solution running in less than 30 minutes using Firebase! If at first you don't succeed... :)
Accomplishments that we're proud of
This is the first website that either of us has made that is completely production ready. Although we had made web applications for smaller school projects, neither of us had ever completed a fully functional website. The transition from running locally to being deployed on the cloud was much harder than either one of us anticipated, but that just made seeing our final website all the better.
What we learned
Beyond the many networking and web development technologies we learned while making this project, we learned a valuable lesson on trying new approaches to get unstuck.
What's next for masks4all
We want our website to connect people around the world, and we have many features we want to add to help get us there. Some features we want to add:
- Ability to add special markers indicating hospitals that people can donate to
- Allowing easy communication between users by calling Facebook messenger APIs
- Badges to incentivize people to keep making masks!
Let us know if you have any ideas, we need as many people to wear masks as possible!
Try It out