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Crowdsourcing app could save lives

Crowdsourcing app could save lives
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As the host of major events like the World Cup and the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics, Brazil is keen to upgrade security.

As part of this drive, it has teamed up with the European Union to develop a computer-based answer to support emergency and crisis management based on mobile crowdsourcing information.

While close circuit TV cameras are watching over traffic, trains and subways, people are being asked to participate by using their smartphone applications.

Developed by German researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany, RESCUER ("Reliable and smart crowdsourcing solution for emergency and crisis management") is one of them.

This EU-Brazilian partnership relies on mobile technology.

“The data is transmitted from the mobile device to a central command and can then be used by emergency services. They can visualise the actual data from each individual phone if they chose to, or take a general view of the situation. For example, they can chose to view high density population areas, or areas where a larger number of fires, explosions or similar events have been reported,” says Jörg Dörr of the Fraunhofer Institute.

One prerequisite is that it must be possible to maintain the flow of information between a crowd of people and the emergency center even when the traditional communication infrastructure is overloaded. Another aspect under study is how people use their mobile phones when under stress.

“We are also testing it here in Germany at public viewing sites or sites where larger crowds get together, in order to get initial feedback. We hope that in the future, the application, and the entire framework it relies on, will contribute to ensuring public safety,” explains Jörg Dörr.

It’s all about having the right information at the right place and at the right time.

Convinced that a system like RESCUER could have helped avoid casualties at events like the 2010 Love Parade stampede in Duisburg, developers are placing particular emphasis on making the program as user-friendly as possible.