Proposed by: Google Inc.
Contact (John Reilly, email@example.com, 973.255.9900, cell):
Best way and times to contact during RHoK 2.0 Dec 4/5 2010: e.g. email, but on cell 10am-3pm EST (GMT+5)
Web-based Prototype: note: the web-based application (prototype) is a superset of the system's functionality. Android app specs are a targeted subset and should be achievable during the RHoK weekend. Narrow format for smartphones and tablets.
Incident Commanders, whether managing an international humanitarian crisis or a local volunteer response to a fire or medical emergency, need to understand where critical resources and points-of-interest are located e.g. Responders, Equipment, Locations, Security, Supplies, etc... The application will track Responders in real-time; give them route information to their target destinations; enable them to request urgent assistance should they be threatened; alert them to danger areas through virtual "fencing"; enable basic data collection via voice, web or SMS communications.
A proof-of-concept server-centric application has been built utilizing Google services including App Engine, Latitude, Maps, Directions, and Voice. Critical functionality, although accessible now through a web-connected browser, would be better served through a more robust Android application. It's this small front-end that we hope to build at RHoK and deploy into the hands of Incident Commanders and their Responders in early 2011.
Problem: Christina is the field operations director for an NGO working in Haiti on humanitarian relief. She has over 150 volunteers in-country for whom she is responsible. Her counterpart, Emmanuel, is the NGO's Security Director. Both are very aware of the daily challenges of organizing the daily activities of the volunteers and insuring their safety. Unfortunately, once the volunteers leave base camp for the day they are very much on their own. Their access to information like blocked roads, flash riots, change in itinerary, or the closest safe-house or fellow volunteer is limited. Christina and Emmanuel can only answer the phone and provide assistance should something go wrong. They cannot proactively inform their volunteers unless they want to call each and every one and hope to get through.
Solution: With the right phone enabled with SMS and GPS, Christina can track the whereabouts of her volunteers and warn them of critical events during their day. Emmanuel can provide volunteers with a "panic" button on their phone that will immediately send the volunteer's latitude and longitude back to base camp where Emmanuel can coordinate a response by the nearest qualified security or similarly-trained personnel. Volunteers can route around trouble spots using Google Maps. They can call into Google Voice to make their scheduled "personnel accountability report" or PAR check to let Emmanuel know that they are OK. And since the application is open-sourced, dozens of NGOs can utilize the system for free and provide "mutual aid" to each other for optimum security and safety.
Problem: John is Chief of his town's volunteer fire department (one of over 30,000 fire departments in the United States). He has no easy way of knowing if there are enough volunteers within ten minutes of town should their be a fire call. Then, sure enough, a fire call comes over the radio for a "working structure fire". It will be at least ten minutes before John has any idea if he will need to seek aid from surrounding towns. He's not even sure if anyone qualified to drive the fire engine is responding to the firehouse. He hopes for the best..."
Solution: John just got his hourly text-message letting him know that he has ample staffing in town should their be a call. (Conversely, he can be alerted only when minimum thresholds are not met.) Suddenly their is a fire call. His department's members call a local Google Voice number to signify they are responding. Or send a simple text message or open a browser on their pc or smartphone to do the same. Google Maps gives those members responding directions to the incident on their smartphone (android, iphone, blackberry, etc.) Command and Responders alike can all see the Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) for each Responder to the Firehouse or Scene. John knows when the first fire engine leaves the firehouse and it's ETA to the Scene. He knows who is on-board and can start to assign those Responders to tasks e.g. fire suppression, search & rescue, any task he wishes to custom define. Throughout the Incident every member is tracked until they return to the firehouse. Incident "accountability" means a safer, more efficient response.
Problem: Jess is Chief of a rural volunteer fire department (where the majority of calls are wild, grass and brush fires not structures). When a wildfire initiates, mutual assistance (units and manpower from adjacent fire districts) is generally called quickly in order to contain the fire. Jess's district contains 200 square miles so mutual assistance fire districts may be responding in unfamiliar territory. A grass fire called in at 2:00AM receives a response from five fire districts with a combined ten brush trucks and two tankers. They begin working a 240 acre fire containing six outbuildings, two trailer houses, one permanent home, one oil tank battery and two ponds. Jess is responsible for organizing each of the units (truck or tanker) on the fire and communicating with them by radio directing their efforts. Jess has limited knowledge where the units are working, how many are covering each building or if the units have responded to his requested movements. Each unit from an external district is driven by someone with no previous knowledge of the layout of roads, dead ends, fences, structures or water sources. Drivers often get lost on their way to fires outside of their district or stuck on dead end roads. During the rainy season, trucks often get stuck in dangerous locations and need extraction assistance quickly. Location and coordination data is critical but scarce.
Solution: Since the rural fire departments receive text messages from the 911 service that include fire location, time and date, each unit (truck or tanker) will contain a mounted Android. Jess' command vehicle will contain an Android tablet that receives the text message just like the firefighters. The text message location is plotted on the google map. Upon arriving at the station and entering the unit, the location of the fire and the location of the current unit is visible on the map to assist in navigation.
Upon reaching the fire, each unit (truck or tanker) becomes visible on Jess' Android tablet through Latitude as they enter his map. Each fire department would previously choose a different icon for department and each unit name would appear beside it so that units can be referenced by radio traffic (example, "come in Stroud brush2 this is command"). Jess is able to look at the Android tablet as a living map with a satellite photo. Jess is able to use the radio (or the application alone) to manipulate the location and direction of each unit responding. He is able to zoom in or out to find new routes to the fire, new structure issues or water locations for refill. Each fire unit moving on the map is updated on Jess' Pad often. Throughout the Incident every unit is tracked until they return to the firehouse.
Track readiness prior to a call by gathering GPS coordinates for Responders; allow Responders to communicate whether they are responding via voice, web or SMS; track Responder and Apparatus progress to the Incident; provide Responder with Google Maps directions and text-to-speech updates en route; track Responders throughout Incident as they enter/exit hazardous areas defined by Command;
Existing Google App Engine written in Java.
Existing functionality which Android application can access through URLs includes Alerts, Directions, Location and Task Assignment, Estimated Time of Arrival given two sets of coordinates, Administration for all objects e.g. Organization, Members, Locations, Statuses, etc...
Android app should eliminate the need for web-connectivity by using text messaging as the primary communications protocol.
How will this work be taken to real users, or further developed? Will this be an ongoing team? Is there a NGO/group that's sponsoring it as an ongoing project? Who/how/when?
Arlington Fire department in Arlington Oklahoma and Lincoln County Oklahoma would be willing to prove and use this application in a proof of concept.