Project: The Haiti Emergency Relief Application, by Sean Smith, BCOS ’12.
WHAT IT IS: A smart phone application that helps connect Haitians to first responders.
WHY IT IS NEEDED: “Haiti doesn’t have a centralized 911 system,” says Smith. “It leads to a lot of wasted time trying to find the right contact in emergency situations.” As part of a Microsoft-sponsored student technology competition last year, Smith and two classmates worked with computer science professor Pierre Elysee to develop an app that puts all of that information in one place.
WHAT IT DOES: The app not only provides a list of local emergency numbers, but also sends out a user’s geographic coordinates to responders. “When you make that phone call, it pulls your GPS location, phone number, and a time stamp,” says Smith. “So even if you get cut off, [responders] can find you.” The app also allows users to submit a more detailed message, noting where they are and what sorts of items they may need—everything from water to insulin.
WHAT’S NEXT: Smith is still formalizing the app, which he hopes to see in use this year. He is also developing a version of the app that will provide emergency contact information to anyone whether they are in Bali or Berlin—perfect for the world traveler. “It’s great to be able to shine light on how we can use technology to make our lives safer,” says Smith.