Meet the team

  • Jackie is originally from Richmond, VA and is studying Public Policy and History at JMU. She wants to apply her skills in problem solving to improve the processes needed to get critical resources to HADR operatives, so that the people working on the ground can focus on saving lives and not navigating policy. Her interests outside outside of academics include writing, traveling, and playing tennis.
  • From Staunton VA, Bio major with a focus on Pre-med. I am a senior graduating in May 2017 and plan to take a gap year to study for the MCAT and then off to med school. My goal is to ultimately become an Orthopedic Surgeon
  • Emma is originally from Fairfax, Virginia and is currently a Nursing student at James Madison University. She is skilled in problem solving, and wants to use her training to improve the quality of life of people in crisis and help them get the medical care they need to survive.
  • Originally from Johnstown, PA, Adam Warren is an Engineering major with minors in Robotics and Mathematics. He is an aspiring Coast Guard Engineer with a love of tinkering, designing and building. His ultimate career goal is to work as an engineer for a government contractor. His interests outside of academics include running, drawing, and learning new skills.
  • My name is Will Khairalla and I am a Communications major and Writing and Rhetoric minor at James Madison University. I am planning to go to law school after my undergraduate years are finished. My interests outside of academics lie mainly in the sports world, where I am constantly using my rhetoric skills to debate anyone who wants to talk sports with me. I am very excited by the opportunity provided by this class.

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What is the problem? Pt. 2

What is the problem? Pt. 2

We realized early on that there are too many problems in Humanitarian Aid missions to solve. With a focus on supply movements, locations of first responders, and crowdsourcing data from victims (location & supplies needed) we should be able to alleviate some of the pains first responders face during and after a disaster. Here is our updated problem statement:

HADR operatives CANNOT:

  1. Locate other first responders & victims in a region
  2. Locate where and what critical supplies are in a region
  3. Have access to data/a map that updates (in real time) who is doing what
  4. Track that supplies are actually delivered to people in need

AS A RESULT…

  1. Information, time, and resources are wasted
  2. And human lives are lost

Team Vital: Solution Oriented

Team Vital: Solution Oriented

This week team Vital conducted ten more interviews and brainstormed more ideas for our app. Some of the people we interviewed include: Marine Corps Analyst, Marine Corps Intelligence, an app developer, and a chief intelligence officer for National Defense University. We got some insight into the positives and negatives of our minimum viable product, which will help us tweak it moving forward. We realized a potential obstacle in regards to our solution will be that customers will have to already have it downloaded. We need to figure out how to really sell the value of our app so people feel compelled to have it downloaded. 

In a disaster, most people post information and pictures on Facebook or other social media platforms. We want to know if we can use data from major social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat) and upload it to our app in real time. Also, can people without smartphones send SMS texts to update the app? In order to figure these answers out, we need to interview app developers. We were told that one of the values of our solution is that it provides asynchronous communication, meaning that multiple pieces of data can be read at once. As opposed to a dispatcher having to answer eight calls, for example, he could look at the app and see that eight people reported the same emergency in one location.

Number of interviews: 10

Number of Mission Proposition Canvases: 10

Number of Minimum Viable Product Ideas: 3

 

What is the problem?

What is the problem?

What is the problem? Over the past few weeks, we learned there are too many problems in HADR missions to solve. We have interviewed Nurses, Doctors, Marines, pilots, directors, firemen, lawyers and professors who all have experience in Humanitarian Assistance. Each interview gives us insight into the problems first responders face. From a lack of communication and slow bureaucratic responses, to Doctor’s without proper medical supplies; it is impossible to create a solution that will solve every problem. We are still struggling to understand the problem and continue each week to re-work our problem statement. Our updated problem statement is:

HADR operatives CANNOT:

  1. Locate people
  2. Attain information about the status of critical infrastructures and supplies needed
  3. Coordinate their responses efficiently during disasters

AS A RESULT…

  1. Information, time, and resources are wasted
  2. And human lives are lost

We want to develop an app that will share valuable information about the victims, resources needed, and conditions of the critical infrastructures. The app will also allow first responders to communicate with their directors more efficiently. Now that our problem statement has narrowed, it will be easier for us to ask the right questions during interviews and extract better information. Here are some takeaways from our week:

Jackie- Facebook Security Check in allows people to crowdsource support (food, water, other supplies) within their community during a crisis.

Cesar- People should have offline texts with what information they need for a disaster so they are prepared if cell service goes down.

Adam- Our app will have to be big data wise. Cloud based management could help here. Our solution should be able to work on multiple devices

Emma- Understanding the MMC more.

Will- When new technology arises, one big hurdle is getting people to ‘buy into’ using it.

 

Change in tactics

Change in tactics

This week we focused on interviewing people with hands-on experience in disasters. We realized it is important to gain empathy for the first responders and that as a group we need to dig deeper and ask the tough questions during interviews. With a clearer understanding of our goals going forward, we were able to ask more precise questions. Here are a few takeaways from our interviews:

Adam: There is a much larger pool of people with pertinent information that we could solicit help from than I originally envisioned. I learned a lot about what organizations we can contact, how we can frame our problem to them, and how they can help us.

Emma: Digging deeper into an interviewee’s experiences are critical to gaining more useful information. We realized that shifting our focus to man-made disasters as opposed to natural disasters was a potential we had not really thought about but should definitely explore.

Jackie: Specificity is key; try to get a “day in the life” perspective. We also learned that we needed to narrow our problem down, which we did- to information sharing (What), state level (Where), and during the disaster (When).

Cesar: Learning  the thought process of people in disasters was an eye opener. Most people want to help and its not just first responders; some locals want to help as well. The only thing that holds most people back is not knowing what to do. This is where communication plays a key role. By us streamlining it and making it better we can make a real difference.

Will: We can’t solve every problem associated with a disaster. While interviewing three contacts this week, the issue of unreliable communication was echoed again and again. This reaffirmed our decision to focus on the issue of improving information exchange. We have the bodies and resources to respond a lot better than we are, but our inability to communicate the proper orders impedes our effort.