The City of Ottawa is currently upgrading their hospitals to a new electronic health record system, and rather than speeding up the process, the slow learning curve for the system has drastically increased wait times for emergency response teams. One of our team-mates hosted a tournament where a player tore their achilles, when 911 was called it was estimated that the ambulance would come in 1 hour.
When a victim is in an emergency situation, receiving immediate first aid could save their life. For example, a non-breathing victim who receives CPR immediately has a much higher chance of survival than someone who waited for an ambulance to arrive. Our team member Hari, who is certified in First Aid and CPR, realized that there are many people who are certified to be able to provide basic First Aid and perhaps minor treatment for a person in need. So he came up with the idea of an app that can instantly connect a person in need to nearby First Responders.
What it does
Using SafeZone, a user can call for help after which they will immediately connected to a nearby First Responder. Depending on the severity of the situation, the user will be advised to still call 911. Once the Responder is on the way, he/she will be able to contact the user who requested help to provide helpful instructions or get to know the situation before arriving. In an ideal scenario, the Responder reaches the user and provides First Aid until EMS arrives. In order for a user to be recognized as a First Responder on SafeZone, they must upload certification and wait for approval.
How we built it
SafeZone was built as an Android application using Kotlin and Android Studio. We wanted the app to be clean in terms of design and for the user experience to be easy. So we made a very detailed design on Figma with all the views and app-flows before starting the development of the app. Google Firebase is powering our authentication, database, storage, and backend functions. We're using Google Cloud Platform/Google Maps API to get user location, calculating routes and distances.
Challenges we ran into
During the course of the hackathon we ran into a few challenges. The most prominent ones included some aspect of troubleshooting the google maps API. It was challenging to retrieve the location of the user, along with calculating the location of the closest first responder. In order for the google maps API to function properly, the user must provide some permissions that enable services. Setting these permission also brought up some challenges such as what happens if a user rejects the permission request.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were able to produce a full minimum viable product over this 37 hour hackathon, from building a thorough design flow to implementing the basic functions of SafeZone. Though we ran into many technical road blocks along the way, we were able to overcome them all by making use of the expertise of each of our team members and staying organized throughout our design and build process. We established a clear work flow which focused the direction of our project and created a clean foundation for SafeZone.
What we learned
Each member of our team has a different strength which was super cool because we were all able to learn so much from each other. For example, we all learned a lot about good design principles from Aarthi who is an amazing designer. With regards to the app itself, we chose to code in Kotlin which we knew almost nothing about. We literally learned a completely new language and built a working application with it which is awesome. Towards the half-way point, we decided that at a hackathon it's not worth it to nit-pick on minor details/issues, we could have saved a lot of time if we kept pushing forward to work on the main features - definitely something we learned for next time.
What's next for SafeZone
Our team is really passionate about the idea which sparked SafeZone. We will finish the app, clean it up, add all the basic features it needs, and try to launch it in a city (probably Ottawa our hometown). We want to reach out to hospitals/first aid societies and share our idea to see if it can make a big impact. If we can save lives with this app, we're all in for it!