Citizens as sensors

Computers & Mobile Science
Citizens as sensors

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Quick question: If you were having a heart attack and could choose one person to help you &emdash; either a paramedic, 10 miles away, or a CPR-certified neighbor, three blocks away &emdash; who’d make the cut?

Since it’s your life at stake, let me give you a few more details to help aid in your decision. After cardiac arrest, if heart rhythm does not rapidly return to its normal rhythm, brain damage and death results. The window for survival is about 10 minutes.

In order to survive, speed is of the essence. Neighbors with the right training will often be able to provide help more quickly than the closest professionals. In our example, the small difference in arrival time of a few minutes could save your life.

With that in mind, the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District (SRVFPD) in California yesterday announced the launch of an iPhone geolocation app that matches and dispatches trained citizens to those in crisis.

Said Tim O’Reilly, who attended the announcement:

Everyone knows that mobile devices are changing the way we live and work. By providing some critical communications, location-awareness, and alert infrastructure, the application lets citizens closest to a life-threatening emergency be of help before official resources arrive. The creators of this application have moved beyond the real-time Web to the right time Web.

For more on the implications and development of the app, see this O’Reilly Radar post.

Check out all of our citizen science coverage on MAKE

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