As a software developer and tech enthusiast I love working and playing with devices like the Amazon Echo; as a person raised in the Pacific Northwest, I love spending time in the great outdoors; and as a believer in open data, I love to transform publicly available sources into something new. When I heard about the Amazon Alexa API Mashup Contest, I wanted to create an API integration that could fit into all of these. After spending some time looking through various Federal Government APIs I settled on the Recreation Information Database (RIDB), which provides a unified interface to data about outdoor recreation opportunities nationwide.
...new technology, open data, and the great outdoors
The API mashup itself consists of an AWS Lambda function running under Node.js. Using the Amazon Alexa Skills Kit, I defined intents to handle user queries for different location levels, and where necessary used the Google Maps API to geocode user-provided locations and present relevant information. While State and City names can be identified using built-in slots from the Alexa Skills Kit, I listed all of the available recreation area names as items in a custom slot to ensure that names spoken by users would be correctly interpreted. Names spoken by users are compared for similarity to the areas retrieved in the current session. When a user gets more info about a recreation area, they can also choose to have directions sent to the Alexa app.