Tuesday, 06 March 2012

ECU students coin smartphone rescue app

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HeliThe Police Air Wing was involved in this project from the very beginning, which means that everything has been created in a way that will best integrate with their current systems. Image: Joshua DavisA NEW application (app) developed by students from Edith Cowan University turns ordinary smartphones into a survival and rescue device, allowing users to send crucial GPS information directly to the WA Police Air Wing with the touch of a button.

The “Search and Rescue Application” was developed by Laurence Da Luz, Jordan Garcia, Tyson Wolker and Huda Minhaj, students from ECU’s School of Computer and Security Science, in collaboration with WA Police Air Wing staff.

Laurence Da Luz says “When a person is lost, they often have trouble passing on the information that is needed to locate them—even simple things like reading out a GPS location from their phone becomes challenging due to stress and shock,”

“The application has the ability to communicate crucial information in an automated way, allowing the user to send accurate data even while suffering from stress or shock.”

According to Mr Da Luz, the development of the app came about as a way of addressing the need for an effective method to locate people who are lost or injured.

“The current location system used by the Police Air Wing involves triangulating a person's position using phone towers—this can be inaccurate and a lot of time and resources are wasted trying to locate people.”

“The Police Air Wing was involved in this project from the very beginning, which means that everything has been created in a way that will best integrate with their current systems, we could identify features that would be beneficial and customise the app to better aid them in a rescue situation.”

The app allows users to automatically send GPS coordinates to emergency services, provides a light source for night vision equipment, plots the user’s location using stored GPS coordinates and contains a set of survival tips, compiled by survival expert Bob Cooper.

“The app uses common features of all modern smartphones,” Mr Da Luz says.

According to Mr Da Luz, field tests conducted in bushland near Jandicot Airport were very successful, with the GPS location feature allowing the police helicopter to locate their target in a matter of minutes.

The app, which will soon be freely available for android smartphone users, is a finalist in the Tertiary Student Category of the 2012 WA Information Technology and Telecomunications Awards.

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