Nishat Kurwa on Monday, Oct. 1st
You’re in the middle of a violent earthquake that strikes just after sunset. A freeway overpass nearby begins to crumble. Pools of gasoline from destroyed cars ignites, producing smoke and haze and reducing visibility. There are fire engines dispatched all over the city, and chaotic conditions that make it hard to know where they’re most needed, and the navigability of the location once they arrive.
While it’s true that it’s unlikely for all these conditions to coincide in urban disasters, it’s also true that when one does strike, waiting for first responders on the scene to report these hazards while they’re trying to save lives is so, well, 1989. A team at the Shared Reality Lab at McGill University wants to develop an app that will remove that burden — integrating crowdsourced, multi-sensor data; live audio and video; and multi-spectral imagery from the scene of a disaster to better prepare emergency responders for what they’ll face on the ground.
The team won a gold medal and $5,000 in seed money in an NSF funded Mozilla Ignite Challenge for app ideas “that would advance national priorities such as health care, public safety, clean energy and transportation.”
It’s part of a larger, government-funded initiative to spur apps that will advance public sector efficiency. From the NSF:
During Mozilla Ignite’s brainstorming round, the public was invited to imagine applications that make use of ultra-fast and deeply programmable new networks, such as the NSF-funded Global Environment for Networking Innovation project, or GENI, which is some 250 times faster than networks available today.
The silver medal winners won $2,500 each for their ideas focused on the manufacturing and teleconferencing sectors. In the development round, a $485,000 pot is being offered up to developers who can materialize these ideas.
There’s more here.