Building an NLP-Powered AI Transit Assistant at HackCT for National Day of Civic Hacking

Introduction: Documenting My Experience at HackCT

This past weekend I participated in HackCT, an exciting hackathon organized by Laura Horak and Mike Caprio at EASTCONN. The theme was public transportation, and over 100 participants gathered to brainstorm and build technology projects aimed at improving transit systems.

As the event photographer, mentor, and a hacker myself, I experienced HackCT from several perspectives. I collaborated with teammates to create a project called KK’s AI Chatbot, and had a great learning experience in the process.

KK’s AI Chatbot: Building an NLP-Powered Transit Assistant

I built an AI chatbot called KK’s AI Chatbot, which provides transit information to users through natural language interactions. Building this chatbot allowed me to greatly improve my skills in Python, JavaScript, natural language processing, web development, and using developer tools like GitHub, Visual Studio Code, and the command line interface.

KK’s AI Chatbot is powered by sophisticated natural language processing algorithms to understand user queries. It responds with accurate transit data, schedules, routes and more. I chose Flask for the Python web framework, Socket.IO for real-time communication, and integrated the chatbot with a Flutter mobile app. The source code is available on GitHub for anyone to use and build upon.

I’m proud to have built a working prototype chatbot in just 36 hours at HackCT! Refactoring the code and integrating feedback from fellow participants helped take the project to the next level. Demoing our chatbot at the closing ceremony and getting positive reactions was very rewarding.

Documenting the HackCT Experience

In addition to hacking on projects, I photographed the event’s energy and community. You can view my photo album from HackCT here:

hackCT-final-9

I also recorded a podcast and video interviews with GitHub’s CEO and CTO, Thomas Dohmke and Kyle Daigle, who offered great insights on public transit and technology:

HackCT: An Open Platform for Innovation

For more on the open-source solutions explored at HackCT, see my other blog posts:

Hackathons like HackCT allow developers to quickly turn ideas into reality. The collaborative community and hands-on learning accelerates growth. I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate, contribute as a mentor, build a technical project, practice photography, and share my experiences with the world. If you’re interested in getting involved with a hackathon, I highly recommend it!