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Code Switch Projects


Here is a summary of the nine projects that were worked on and presented at this year’s Code Switch.

Attune

Our world is divided. While many nations, including the United States, have remarkably diverse populations, these different populations are often divided by the fear of different races, religions, orientations, and nationalities. Why does this fear persists despite our similarities far, far outnumbering our differences? Attune believes this fear is rooted in an inability to empathize with others. Inspired by the power of travel, and of the connective power of sharing economy businesses like AirBnB, Attune developed an idea for a business that enables those who are curious about the lives and cultures of different people to live with hosts of different backgrounds. Attune believes that by living life with a host of a different background, people will develop empathy for others, and come to understand that we are, in fact, much more alike than different.

Educational Games

Team Members

Kids learn so much from video games - so much about the characters, story, and mechanisms of video games. Imagine what kids would learn if these characters, stories, and mechanisms were based on scientific concepts. Would this increase the scientific literacy of our society? Would this make scientific concepts easier to teach in school? Would we all have a better understanding of our own bodies, and the diseases that might impact them? These are the ideas and questions that the Educational Games team explored at Code Switch. Inspired by these ideas, the team created a prototype of a game based on the real mechanisms of biomolecule transportation in nerve cells.

Leadz

Team Members

The Leadz team wants youth of color to learn from and be inspired by professionals of color. To that end, the team has created a Wordpress site to house profiles, videos, and advice from scientists, engineers, artists, lawyers, and many more professionals of color. With this content as a start, and a contact form to entice more mentors to share their stories, the team has also planned future features to strength these mentoring relationships, including Skype integration for one-on-one mentoring discussions, and an algorithm for matching youth with adults based on their interests and passions.

Livewell

Team Members

Public benefits are complicated. It is difficult to know what you might be eligible for, or how changes in income will affect the benefits you receive. Actually applying for benefits involves filling out individual applications for each benefit, despite the fact that these applications ask many similar questions. Benefit eligibility and application forms were not designed with user experience in mind, so the Livewell team focused on a benefits eligibility and application tool that is. The Livewell team created a person and wireframes, and researched benefit criteria, in order to design a mobile and text ready web application that will quickly and easily help residents to understand what benefits they are eligible for, how changes in income might impact the benefits they receive, and fill out and submit benefit application forms.

Neighborhood Stories

Team Members

Stories are embedded in data, and there is a lot of data out there about our cities and neighborhoods. The Neighborhood Stories team worked on bringing those data embedded stories to the surface, so that we residents can learn about and discuss the places we live. The team created a map based prototype that allows a user to explore various topics - health, education, housing - in their neighborhoods. Each topic includes a high level statement about that topic based on data, as well as a space to discuss the topic via social media.

Open Beds

Team Members

On a regular basis, people experiencing homelessness encounter an information problem: where is there a bed I can sleep in tonight? While there are often beds available on a given night, a person experiencing homelessness can often only discover this by physically visiting a given shelter. In addition to the basic question of whether a bed is available, people experiencing homelessness also have to navigate the restrictions and characteristics of shelters. Is there a curfew? Does the shelter have a religious affiliation? The Open Beds team set out to address this information asymmetry by designing and prototyping an online and mobile application, with information provided by shelters, that allows users to quickly view the number of open beds at a shelter, as well as additional information about that shelter.

Renters Helper

Team Members

Landlords hold considerable power in their relationship with renters. As property owners, landlords are the party who ultimately decide to fix appliances, maintain building infrastructure, eradicate infestations, and address other issues related to the livability of a property. Elements of this relationship are regulated, and violations of a given property owner and a property are public data. This means little however, if renters are unaware of these regulations or what this data has to say. Renter Helper seek to address this information asymmetry by analyzing existing public data on landlords and properties, and collecting additional data from renters, in order to create a score that represents how well a property is taken care of. In addition to this score, the team wireframed a website and app that helps connect renters with this analysis and other important information.

RxLife

Team Members

For individuals who take prescription drugs, or caregivers for those individuals, keeping track of the variety, schedules, and interactions of medication can be dangerously confusing. RxLife’s goal is to reduce the confusion by helping users to manage and view the very important information associated with prescription drugs. Over the weekend, RxLife created a functional prototype of a mobile app that keeps a list and schedule of current and past drugs that a patient is prescribed, with the option to notify users when it is time to take medication. The team also explored ways to help patients to manage the complications of prescription drugs, with an idea for adding alerts when a drug is added that interacts with existing medication, and creating an easy to understand listing of drugs, foods, and activities that should be avoided while on active medication.

Who Says What

Team Members

Debates are important events in elections. In some cases, they can reshape campaigns and define the history of our political contests. What can we learn if we apply data and text analysis to transcripts of these pivotal events? Who Says What dug into that question, based on transcripts for every presidential debate since 1964. The team scraped this data from the web and started defining a variety of questions and hypotheses to drive analysis of this data, such as frequency of words, percentage of speaking time, likelihood of generating applause, and when speakers actually address questions. Of these, Who Says What created and presented visualizations and statistical models for variations of two of these questions: who has spoken most during this 2016 Republican Presidential debates?; and can we predict when a Republican debater will say something that leads to an applause?

Ruby Bridge

Ruby Bridge was not a public issue project like the above, and did not present at the end of Code Switch. This was a workshop held during Code Switch that introduced the fundamentals of the Ruby programming language to participants. During the Code Switch weekend, Ruby Bridge participants went through the Learn to Code curriculum from RailsBridge. Together with workshop organizers, participants went through topics that included Ruby basics, the command line, common data structures and control flows (variables, arrays, strings, files, loops), object orientation, how to execute Ruby, and how to create and host a simple website.