An app that can save lives with the click of a button

Hasmik Djoulakian

(June 8, 2012) — Vernes Okanovich has based his senior project on something that directly save lives: a 911 application for Android phones. This was not Okavinch’s initial intention. He had been writing a research paper on cyberbullying when he came to the conclusion that he wanted to take a different approach to helping people. Okanovich reasoned that dialing 911 in an emergency should take only a moment, but doing so on most touch-screen cellphones takes five or so keystrokes. He commenced developing his Android application called “Panic Button,” a process to which he devoted more than 100 hours. Another feature of this app is that during setup it asks the user for up to three contacts who would be notified in the case of an emergency. They would be sent a text message indicating where that person was at the time and saying he needs assistance. The person’s bearings would be given in longitude and latitude. It would also state when those readings were taken. Okanovich did not have much previous knowledge of programming or geocaching. He had to research and teach himself how to use the geocaching library among other programming methods. He is now making updates to his application so that it may detect geocode-enabled devices. “This would allow me to reverse geocode,” Okanovich said. “It would gather the longitude and latitude and convert it to an address which will be easier for the users to access.” Okanovich says that his application is something of a safety net. “We are all aware that the police and paramedics do not always arrive on time,” he said. As the user’s contacts would be notified along with the paramedics of the emergency, the contacts could provide assistance before the ambulance’s arrival that could be life-saving. Okanovich presented his project on June 2 using two Android Virtual Devices which emulated how the app would be used in an emergency. He has learned from this experience that prioritizing and planning are essential. He said that he plans on applying and furthering the programming skills he has learned by pursuing a career in computer science.