It's been a while since I blogged about the progress that Inspiratech have made in the Imagine Cup, due to a mass of deadlines. So I'll give you quite a large update now.

As you may or may not know, the Imagine Cup is a competition run by Microsoft, which encourages people to "Imagine a world where technology helps to solve the world's toughest problems".

If you want to see what it's about and enter check this out.

The first round of this competition is submitting our idea for a project. This is then judged on how well thought out, original and ingenious the idea is. This is due for submission by the 10th of December. As a team we have been collaborating heavily on the creation of this document.

We want to be fairly open about the content of this, without actually disclosing the document itself. So I'm going to discuss what our solution will entail and how we intend to set it in motion.

Firstly on our use of huddle. Huddle is a collaboration tool with a vast amount of functionality. Tasks can be added along with meeting scheduling, email notification and file management. We set up our workspace on huddle adding each team member to it. This means we can assign tasks to team members and keep everyone notified with the help of huddle's notification system.

We decided to treat the competition as if it were a real world project. Complete with Team Leaders and Minutes Secretary, however each of us carry the same weight as each other. Each of these roles are rotary; meaning that the Leader changes on a monthly basis, and the Minutes Secretary changes bi-monthly. This helps us meetings run smoothly and gives us all the experience of project management and minute taking. We keep track of this using huddle's task system - it's especially handy that we can assign team members to this to keep track of who is doing what, when. The minutes themselves are stored on huddle's file management system. This allows for us to approve the document, or make changes to it, whilst keeping a full audit trail.

Onto our Functional Specification. We spent quite a few meetings to firm up our ideas for the solution before starting on this document. Once we had settled on a decision we moved on to a feature list. Detailing what we want each of our screens to do; along with what we want the cloud to store.

We'll be storing a lot of data about the refugees being entered into the system in order to raise the chances of finding a match when a lost loved one tries to search for them, and vice versa. We decided the key to finding matches, in what has the potential to be a huge amount of records, was a field weighting system. This meant that a field - let us say nationality - has a higher weighting than hair colour as it is deemed to be either more unique or relevant. Prioritising various matches over others we feel that a user can find who they are searching for quickly and efficiently.

We're focusing on using the Windows Phone 7 platform for data capture, Windows Presentation Foundation for capture, search and administration. Tying these together with a solid cloud-hosted solution with SQL Azure.