Project: Empath

Empath is a chatbot for people facing homelessness in San Jose to find resources. Empath provides the location and direction to resources such as public restrooms, water fountains, shelter, food banks, and health clinics. With 45% of homeless people owning cell phones, we will leverage this technology to connect them with resources that can save lives. Empath can be used via SMS, voice call or messenger applications to ensure usability no matter the phone type. Homelessness in San Jose is a big issue and we believe that connecting homeless people with life-saving resources will help alleviate this issue. If homeless people can easily find resources, they will be closer to securing a better quality of life, and even permanent housing. Using our expertise and existing resources, we will design an easy-to-use chatbot that connects homeless people to resources they need. A text message chatbot is a great way for homeless people to reach out and find information because they might be prefer anonymity, or lack the resources to connect to the Internet. To make Empath a reality, we will use Amazon Lex to create our chatbot, and Amazon Lambda to house our code. Data for resource locations will be taken from OpenStreetMap.org and used with Google Maps API to guide users to the resources. Checking if our data is current will pose a challenge, but we will rise to meet it because ensuring data accuracy and availability of these resources to our users is of the utmost importance.

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