We initially wanted to do something to reduce the amount of firefighters' lives lost in a year, but then we realized that one of the biggest causes of deaths for firefighters (other than sudden cardiac arrest) is structural damage. So this got us thinking: how do firefighters go into to structurally unsafe buildings when they know it could be potentially fatal for them? The answer is simple: to save some one else, usually a civilian, who did not have the same information available to first responders. So how could we make it so that civilians knew which areas to avoid when, where they had to go for evacuation, and how to let them know if they were in a path of a wild fire? By utilizing a device that almost every person keeps on them at all times and utilizing the waves that they populate: SMS communication with cell phones and cell towers.
What it does
What we wanted to do is use the dragonboard as a beacon for firefighters and civilians, marking where the fire is predicted to come through or has already come through. This beacon would act as a police line almost, warning civilians when they get too close to a restricted area. Each beacon would create its own zone, and then piggy back off of nearby cell towers, using SMS to spread the message of their location out to nearby SMS receivers (i.e, cell phones). If someone was too close to a zone that was determined dangerous, they would be immediately directed to the nearest evacuation point. Since this project is still in its prototype stages, we were only able to get it to text a user within a certain distance of the dragonboard. It is an interactive text messaging system that allows the user to choose what kind of assistance they need. The message prompts the user to choose from one of four choices: which zone they are located in, the nearest evacuation point, to get help to their location, and/or to know where the beacon is.
How we built it
We built this project through utilizing the GPS capabilities on the dragonboard, working with twilio's APIs and servers, as well as building a registration for the app with a GUI in python for the users to sign up voluntarily for these emergency alerts. This app prompts the user for their address and name. To incorporate a GPS beacon, we used a Qualcomm dragon board 410c as the beacon because it had integrated GPS chipset inside. Then, to make the process of getting the GPS easier we used android lollipop, so we could access raw GPS through an app. Using Android studio 3 we soon were able to code and debug numerous times using a Virtual Android machine that ran lollipop. After coding for the beacon was finished the data gathered had to be pushed to a web server that runs Ubuntu Apache. After the data is received on the Ubuntu server it is then pushed to an SMS server running on Twilio that will send the GPS coordinates of the fire out to users of the app to tell them to evacuate.
Challenges we ran into
Dragonboard was a difficult to get the android image running We also continuously had trouble getting twilio's SMS programs and servers to get up and running as well as communicating with our phones successfully. Once we got it to connect to a server, the rest of our program would stop working. This weekend was filled with a lot of debugging and crash courses.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We had a ton of trouble getting everything to work together just because there are so many different moving parts of this machine, and many of us don't have a lot of experience with any of this stuff. But, we are proud that we got a server up and running, a server communicating successfully between a user and itself, a beautiful GUI for users, and of getting the dragonboard to work with the interfaces we downloaded onto it.
What we learned
Some of us learned the troubling intricacies of the dragonboard while the rest of us worked on seamless SMS API integration with a phone and GPSing from the dragonboard. To say that this weekend had a steep learning curve would be an understatment.
What's next for Firewatch
We want to go further with Firewatch, incorporating a larger network of transmitting beacons and a better, more immediate interface for the users. We look forward to making the integration between the python scripts that send the SMS alerts out and the dragonboard GPS-ing more seamless.