Crowdsourcing is changing the way we handle digital information. It helps us distribute tasks, share photos, fund projects, and expand our professional networks.
Through a clinical trial in Toronto, one company is poised to take crowdsourcing in Canada a step further with a CPR app that could save lives.
The PulsePoint Foundation, a non-profit organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area, has developed the PulsePoint app to help victims who have gone into sudden cardiac arrest. The app alerts people in the area who have CPR training when someone nearby is experiencing a cardiac event.
Using the app, which is available for Android and iOS, 911 dispatchers will send out a message to users in the vicinity. If you have the PulsePoint app on your smartphone, you’ll immediately receive a notification, whether you're in the grocery store, the mall, or even at a hockey game.
The app will also provide you with a map that directs you to the scene of the emergency and the location of nearby public access defibrillators. And even more impressively, you'll be able to see emergencies on a map in real-time, so you can gauge traffic and avoid back-ups on the roads. The app broadcasts the live activity of dispatchers, keeping all users up to date on the location of nearby medical units.
So far, the app is only configured to activate in public areas and not in private homes, but further research will evaluate the suitability of the app for a wider audience. Queen's University and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario are currently conducting a clinical trial in Toronto to test the app’s effectiveness.
Through its innovative use of crowdsourcing, PulsePoint provides an essential service for Canadians of all ages. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, over 45,000 Canadians go into cardiac arrest each year, but only 30% of victims actually receive CPR from nearby bystanders.
In Canada, crowdsourcing has already proven its worth as an emergency management system through the Amber Alert program. A recent partnership with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario means that LCBO outlets can now notify customers when an alert is in effect. The idea is that the more people who know about the emergency, the more likely it can be resolved successfully. Digital crowdsourcing has also been used during natural disasters, most recently Hurricane Sandy, to coordinate rescue efforts and reunite survivors with their families.
Thanks to the internet, crowdsourcing has become a popular tool for creative collaboration and problem solving. But innovation can only go so far, and citizen awareness and engagement are also critical steps to a successful crowdsourcing project.
As the PulsePoint app proves, only when people are willing to step in and lend a hand can technology truly do its job.