Transportation is an incredibly pervasive part of our daily, connected lives. During the International Conference on Connected Vehicles and Expo (ICCVE), I gave a presentation about Respondly, an application and service that integrates IoT and the prevalence of mobile devices into a city’s emergency response system in order to reduce ambulance response times. The idea was originally developed at the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon held in San Francisco, CA in September 2015, where two teammates from school (Amit Mondal, Peter Boennighausen) and I were tasked with coming up with an innovation using Vinli.
A simple device that plugs into the OBD-II port (otherwise known as a diagnostics port) under your car’s steering wheel, Vinli makes it easy to make any car a “smart car.” In a world where every device seems to be connected to the Internet – and the mystical cloud – it seems our vehicles are left behind. Armed with the Vinli adapter, we set out for the arduous process of coming up with a project – and then finishing a working model of it and presenting that to judges, in less than 24 hours. Here is how we did it, starting with some background and then details of our work.
Background and Motivation:
While talking to my cousin who had recently received his EMT license earlier in September, he lamented to me about the difficulties he and his fellow EMTs have with quickly getting directions to the location of an emergency. For the older generation of ambulance drivers, the roads were either memorized or physical maps would be used (as a part of Generation iPhone, physical maps befuddle me), and the younger drivers occasionally enlist the help of Google Maps or other similar navigation services the get from the EMT station to an emergency. Thus, we attempted to create an integrated solution using existing emergency vehicle infrastructure, yet leveraging the power of an ever-increasingly connected world. The use of Vinli adapters in existing ambulance vehicles (typically a modified pickup truck or van) would provide the Respondly backed with GPS data and vehicle diagnostics to efficiently manage routing of ambulances in a municipality.
The Respondly system is made up of two main parts: a web application for emergency dispatchers, and a mobile application for ambulance drivers and EMTs. In many municipalities, when an emergency is called in to 911, a radio call is sent out from the dispatch to a station, where the address is typically written down by a station member/EMT. The Respondly web app allows a dispatcher to type in an address and any additional information to a map of the local area – a pin on the map then identifies each active emergency. Once a new emergency has been identified, our server polls the locations of the Vinli equipped ambulances in the area, locating the ambulance closest (in terms of time, factoring in traffic) to the scene of an emergency. Once identified, the ambulance’s mobile application comes into play. The initial application we developed was for the iPhone, though it could easily be ported to other popular systems such as Android. Within 5 seconds of a dispatcher pinpointing an emergency, the mobile device alerts the driver of an incoming call, and immediately provides turn-by-turn directions to the location of an emergency. Furthermore, any additional information provided by the dispatchers is now available to the passenger EMT in order for him or her to prepare for the care necessary. Thus, the necessity for clear radio communication and lost time in writing down then processing information about locations is cut down considerably. In a best-case scenario, a dispatcher would be able to type the location and description of an emergency within 30 seconds, and the ambulance driver would be notified within 5 seconds after that.
Respondly uses multiple standard interfaces including OBD-II for communication with the vehicle, GPS for location reporting, and LTE for connecting dispatchers to ambulances and hospitals. Further plans for Respondly include integration of IEEE 1512, a standard used for emergency management and transportation related emergencies. Furthermore, the goal of this standard is to “support efficient communication for the real-time, interagency management of transportation related events,” a major purpose of Respondly’s communication platform.
Participating in ICCVE allowed me to interact with industry professionals from the US, Europe, and Asia. Thanks to the SEC for helping with my travel to China, and to Vinli for their support in our endeavors. A special thanks also to Dr. Yu Yuan and the ICCVE organizing committee for their hard work and for giving me this opportunity.
Student, Bellarmine College Preparatory
Mihir is a high school student at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, California. He has presented at multiple IEEE-SA events on bringing the Internet of Things into the high school classroom. During the May IoT Startup event in San Jose, he organized and ran a session for bringing high school students into IEEE IoT activities. He enjoys teaching and educating students (of all ages) about engineering, and is currently helping to create student-run engineering curricula at his school.