According to CNN and other news outlets, almost 25 elderly residents in Texas nursing home La Vita Bella were rescued only after the photo of them walking around in waist-deep water went viral with the help of nursing home owner Trudy’s daughter. With little understanding of technology, elderly are one of the most vulnerable during the disaster. So we figured out the solution for elderly to reach out to rescuers or shelter by just using their voice.
What it does
Smart disaster responder is an emergency rescue system, which put disaster victims in touch with rescuers in a second without much effort, and help rescuers detect traffic situation. It has two routes of using the system depends on what victims are equipped with.
The first route is your voice, which will be received by Alexa integrated with Nexmo. The victim may ask Alexa “where is the nearest shelter”, then Alexa will tell you the location of the shelter. Then, Alexa will ask you again “Can you get there yourself”, if the victim says no, it will call the rescuers immediately and locate victims with Alexa. For further communication, rescuers can call victims back.
The second route is our mobile app that’s powered by Nexmo and Hyphenate. Download our app, and all victims have to do is press the button that says “help”, and it will call rescuers via Nexmo, and hyphenate will enable victims to talk to each other in a groupchat to share and release their anxiety.
Last but not least, with the help of arity, rescuers will easily monitor traffic situation in real time.
How we built it
We use Alexa to set off the communication after disaster hitting the area, elderly generally aren't too tech savvy, but they seem to adopt voice activated system at a faster rate than smart phones. Alexa has the location and we will ask for the telephone number for the emergency team to contact.
When user ask for Alexa's disaster response team, we will first check with MapQuest and Arity for road conditions, Verizon Thingspace will also be used as input to see if the road is flooded. If there is a dangerous situation we will try to confirm whether users can get to safety location.
Once they told Alexa that they cant get to the shelter safety, our backend will register them in Hyphenate help group so that users can chat with others who are also waiting for rescue. Nexmo Lex Connector will call the them to update them with response. We will also be using Nexmo to text the users with MapQuest updates, such as where is the shelter, how far the rescue teams are.
If the user does not have Amazon, our app will be able to connect to Nexmo Lex Connector through a single click, which will update them with MapQuest update as well as rescue team's current location and plans.
In the future we would like Alexa to connect with nexmo phone call through custom skills, but currently that is not being opened up by Amazon Echo.
Challenges we ran into
Enabling elderly to use high tech solution without much understanding of technology was the first issue to solve.
There is one challenge we currently have is having a direct phone call on Alexa with the other person, if this becomes available in future, the elderly can simply connect with rescuers directly with Alexa via Nexmo Lex Connector's bot
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We've pushed the
What we learned
Making high tech tools easy to use is not easy. We need more education for elderly that teaches them how to technology, or make technology easy to use for elderly
What's next for Smart Voice Disaster Responder
We want to implement this solution and make it feasible in nursing home, for all the elderly through emergency training program. And effective response from government sectors to this technology will be needed. Also, when Amazon Echo allows us to communicate with phone directly, this will be integrated with nexmo straight.