What's Working: NKU develops iPhone app that could save lives

Developers of the Fire Department App are from left, John McGlone, Eric Rolf, Chris Rider, Chris Walker (Source: NKU Website)
Developers of the Fire Department App are from left, John McGlone, Eric Rolf, Chris Rider, Chris Walker (Source: NKU Website)

(FOX19) - Monday morning Northern Kentucky University announced their partnership with the PulsePoint foundation and a local fire department to bring the nationally acclaimed Fire Department mobile app to NKU. The app was created by NKU students.

This app can alert CPR-certified bystanders to nearby medical emergencies in which they might help. They hoped the technology could help save the lives of people suffering from sudden cardiac arrest.

"The sooner you start CPR on a victim the better their survival rate's going to be," said Erlanger Fire Chief Terry Allen.

Informatics center projects typically require teams to discover new ways of building and doing things. It took 18 months to develop the Fire Department app. They had to be sure it could run in the background of an iPhone without draining the device's battery. Also, a server associated with the app had to handle potentially tens of thousands of downloads.

Since January, 40,000 civilians have downloaded the app. It's unknown how many lives have been saved.

"The system will know you're within that one thousand yards of that call and it will send to only that phone, it won't send it to you if you're across town, but if you're within the proper distance...it will send it to you," said Allen.

The app won a "Most Innovative Use of Technology" award at the 2011 Best of Kentucky Technology Awards in April. The fire district, NKU and several other partners since have launched the PulsePoint Foundation to make the technology available to fire districts around the world. A regional district will announce its plans at the grand opening celebration of Griffin Hall Monday.

Discussions are under way with about 200 others. NKU donated the technology and remains on the foundation's board of directors.

At NKU, more than 560 students are enrolled as computer science majors, a number the faculty says could double in coming years now that Griffin Hall – the new home to Informatics – has opened.

Griffin Hall is very modern. It contains 300,000 feet of data cable, 2,900 data drops, 9,000 feet of fiber optic cable, and 24,000 feet of coaxial cable (for television).

The building has 47 smart spaces (these technology-enhanced areas include such features as document cameras, Blue-Ray players, lecture-capture equipment, and flat-panel displays with smart-tech overlays).

There are 550 student-accessible computers within the building (in both PC and Macintosh platforms), the building also has a virtualization lab and a hardware lab and convergence news room.

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