UA Little Rock student hackers win big in Alabama

Two University of Arkansas at Little Rock information science students won Best Use of Amazon Web Services for their project, “Atrocious Apartments,” during the 2017 CrimsonHacks event March 25.

For 24 hours, 200 students from the southeast region visited the University of Alabama for a weekend of innovation for the first Major League Hacking event in the state.

Seniors Michael DiCicco and Karen Watts worked with two students from the University of Alabama to create a hack that would make apartment hunting easier and safer for college students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

The execution of their project won the team a $250 Amazon Web Service credit.

During the event, the group worked to create an online system that would allow apartment hunters to view crimes that occurred within a one-quarter mile radius of an apartment complex and provide a description of the incident and when it happened.

They were able to make these distinctions using Tuscaloosa’s Open Data Portal, which allowed them access to crime reports in all available areas.

In addition, the team gathered information using building permits to include sites of nearby construction as a warning to students who enjoy napping during the day or dislike noise and traffic.

According to the group’s written project, “This is a very relevant tool for a college community. Not only does it help students search for apartments that are historically safe, but it allows for more personalized decisions when picking an apartment.”

When accessing the group’s website, Atrocious Apartments, viewers can access heat maps of building permits or crime data to easily view apartments in areas of town that they’re interested in living.

Along with helping students make the best choice of residence, the group also hoped their tool would encourage managers of apartment complexes to improve their standards to better meet the demands of renters.

This insight helped to establish the next step in their project, which is to incorporate 311 calls, making students aware of any sanitary complaints within the complex, including trash, rats, and cockroaches.
The group also hopes to determine public opinions of each apartment complex using social media keywords, such as great, good, dirty, and terrible to assist students in making residential choices.

For more information, visit Atrocious Apartments online.

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