User is given three threat options to choose: Human threat, Medical Emergency, and Environmental Risk
If the use selects the Human Threat option, the user can specify further details on the situation
The user can send their own personal text, either to further detail their situation or their current status
The user can then select the contact to send the message to.
The user must scroll through their own personal list of contacts to contact.
The user can then send a text message to the contact of choice. The call can also be made to the contact.
Edward Luthartio, Steven Smith, Rudolph Sargenti, Long J Mai
Several months ago, one of our team members stumbled upon a forum post on the website “Reddit.” A school shooting was taking place in another state, and several users were reporting any information they could find. One found a student hiding from the shooter, and using twitter to try and contact authorities and warn others. The user was unable to contact 911 directly, as they needed to remain silent, for fear of the shooter hearing their voice. We considered some sort of app to safely warn others, and were reminded that Banks already use silent alarms to alert authorities without endangering staff, and so our group worked this idea into an easy to use and responsive app. The app was named after the Greek goddess of Protection; Soteira.
What it does
It allows the user to explain their current situation to the authorities and/or emergency contacts in a quick and effective manner. Soteira has two parts: a quick-access bar in the notification tab, and the main screen in the app itself.
The quick-access bar has three buttons: when the first is pressed, Police will be alerted to an assault or other human-caused threat. The second will alert fire services to an environmental emergency. Lastly, the third button will alert paramedics to a health emergency. The alert is given through a text to speech program which can only be heard on the emergency operators.
The main app itself contains these icons as well as an option to specify the human threat that the user is encountering, such as an attacker with a gun. Then the user can send a automatically made text message to other people in their contacts detailing the specific danger. Finally, the user can also send a automated voice message that details their situation to their contact of choice. For example, the voice message would state “This is the Soteira emergency application system. This user is currently in danger from: a human threat - an attacker with a knife. User is currently located at: 23rd St, Manhattan, NY, 10011.” This prevents users from having to speak in a scenario where they are physically incapable or will be in greater risk in doing so.
NOTE: The demo application does not contain the automated voice message feature due to our group’s limited experience with MIT App Inventor 2.
How we built it
We initially built the demo using MIT App Inventor, but ideally, the app would be made in a more advanced language that would easily support any device regardless of its operating system. Each of our team members were delegated to specific tasks such as artwork, coding the demo, and editing this write up.
Challenges we ran into
Our biggest challenge was balancing the speed and ease of sending the emergency message with the level of detail the message would contain. We wanted to make sure that the app was easy to use in a tense situation, so simplicity was paramount. However, first responders often need key info to better respond to the call. Also, we encountered a coding error while finishing the code, returning an error.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were very proud on fixing an extremely annoying issue regarding the text message feature that Soteira had after working on it for over an hour. In addition, we were happy with how the text messages were able to be customized based on the user’s scenario. For example, if a user believes that another person could potentially harm him, then he could use the app to send a text message quickly to family or friends that describes his potential attacker.
What we learned
We learned about the value of brainstorming and group collaboration, both of which were vital factors to the final production of the project. In addition, we all learned the possibilities to having access to technology regarding emergency situations and the multiple scenarios that it could be implemented in. Unfortunately, we also learned that the application that Soteira was made on was limited enough to stop us from going any further with our ideas, but this opens new potential for future development on a complex yet more flexible application.
What's next for Soteira
We envision Soteira to be used on desktops, laptops, game devices, and other common electronics. This ensures that as many users as possible have a way to call for help quickly and quietly, whether it be when they are on their laptops in a coffee shop or playing a game in their home. Overall, we see the potential for Soteira to be used in a world where technology connects and protects.