RapidPass

These past three months have been an extremely amazing ride.

Let me share my story of how I was able to participate in a national government project. Three months (and nearly a thousand commits later) I find myself in a community of spectacularly talented and good people, a fantastically passionate community of Filipinos (hat tip to DevCon Philippines and DCTx!), and a thoroughly enriched expansion of my knowledge in an unbelievably fulfilling way.

What is RapidPass?

RapidPass is…

… a free website that helps in faster movement and access for front-liners and priority vehicles, ensuring the success of our country’s Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

DCTx on RapidPass

This is the project that I’ve been thoroughly busy with since the middle of March, as soon as we entered ECQ. It’s a three-part system (public website, private dashboard, and scanner devices) and I was part of the Backend team that built the API and other services that tied the whole system together.

The community, which is composed of teams of engineers, lawyers, designers, project managers, government-relations managers, marketers, social media managers, produced a proof-of-concept as early as April 3, only roughly three weeks since the inception of the idea of RapidPass.

This was a beautiful sight to see- talented Filipinos, men and women, taking the initiative to contribute to our country AND to support our front-liners. It was inspiring. It was moving.

It was truly a war against COVID-19, and this was our battlefield.

DICT provides data privacy protection and cybersecurity to RapidPass.ph (April 4, 2020). Photo retrieved from https://dict.gov.ph/dict-provides-data-privacy-protection-and-cybersecurity-to-rapidpass-ph/. Photo courtesy of Engr. Benjz Sevilla, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Resilient Government Emergency Communications, during the RapidPass.ph pilot test.

DCTx – The Volunteers

I observed how the different teams in DCTx organically self-organize with people volunteering to take up responsibilities as leads on the different projects. I started off by writing down minutes, coordinating with different people, and eventually, I began to code.

Almost two months later, I’m nearly a thousand commits in!

GitLab contributions on the open source project for the RapidPass API. I really poured myself into this work, and I take pride in building something for our country and for our front-liners. These commits are built on-top of giants. A big thank you for the support and guidance of my mentors. I was able to do plenty of good work on the project! (a big shout out to my mentors Eric Tiongson and Jonas Espelita! And especially, to our fantastic project manager, Jezza Diaz!)

Professionally, I work as a full-stack software developer (building iOS and Android apps), but after observing the teams, it appeared to be that we’d need more developers on the Backend team. So I decided to observe and learn.

This was a beautiful sight to see- talented Filipinos, men and women, taking the initiative to contribute to our country AND to support our front-liners.

The RapidPass API (which I eventually became a maintainer of), was built using Spring Boot- a framework using the Java language. I thought to myself: Java? Well, I know Java, but I haven’t coded Java since I was in my Masters classes! Oh well. Let’s not push what’s comfortable to me and instead learn whatever I can.

I usually write javascript and typescript code (both for frontend and backend development). In any case, I decided to follow on the footsteps of the people who began the initial work on the code.

Little tidbit fact

The PDF you’re printing out on the email? Yeah- that was my code! To be honest, I wish I could have spent more time on it so that it format the layout better (trust me, it was such a difficult itch to let go of- weighing the other responsibilities and tasks we still had). The design team had a fantastic design changes, but we had to prioritize functionality vs. aesthetics.

Learnings

There were plenty of new technologies that I got introduced to throughout the project, and definitely loads of learning:

  • I learned about Apache Kafka, which is a message-bus kind-of database system which allows different systems to publish and subscribe to different topics. We intended to use this, but given time constraints (and deadlines) it got pushed off into the next milestone.
  • I learned about Keycloak, an open source Identity and Access Management service. I am definitely going to consider this next time I need IAM-related things (and security!) for my succeeding projects.
  • I got to practice more work with the volunteers on securing systems (shout out to AJ Dumahug of Secuna.io!) and I have grown a fondness and appreciation for security!
  • I was able to talk about blockchain with my fellow volunteers (shout out to Ariel and Jeffrey!) and I was able to find some time to try the samples on Hyperledger Fabric! I’m so pleased I was able to finally find time to tinker with blockchain!
  • The network effect. It is definitely a great decision to expand your network and to meet more people. Meeting more people and talking to them about loads of things is much much more beneficial as compared to attempting to learn everything on your own. Multi-core vs. Single core.
  • Control your environment. When you have the privilege and capability to control your environment, you are better able to reap the rewards of putting yourself in the right place and in the right time. Opportunities come and go- Your environment has a great impact on your personal growth.

There’s just… a lot more that I want to write and talk about- but generally, I have an overwhelming wave of gratitude to people and contentedness in the things that passed my way these past few months.

A top objective of mine right now is to be able to rest and to pace myself with work, and so it shall be.

I have loads more mental models I want to share with you, but that shall be it for now. Thanks for reading.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.