iCalamity will help you find family and friends

The super typhoon Haiyan that previously hit the Philippines seemed to have been a lesson for everyone. A number of startups and companies have even created online crisis response platforms to help.

In preparation for future calamities, a group of Davao-based developers has created an app that reconnects families and informs their loved ones about their current location and situation using their phones.

Called iCalamity, it was born out of the recently concluded AngelHack in Davao hackathon organized by the Smart Developer Network. The hackathon revolved around the theme of “Hack2Help” that challenged software developers and mobile programmers in the region to create apps and systems within 24 hours that can be useful during times of emergency.

iCalamity won against 18 other mobile app projects that competed during the hackathon.

Christopher John Cubos, member of the team who created iCalamity, says their goal with the app “is to ensure that no one will ever have to face a calamity alone.” He adds:

Most of the people in Leyte and other areas felt alone and abandoned. When the typhoon struck, nobody was there to help them right away, and most of the people who survived were left to fend for themselves.

People from different parts of the country, or even the Filipino overseas workers can track the whereabouts of their family. People will be able to know the exact location of the members of the family through their mobile numbers. The location will be plotted on an interactive map.

No network signal? No problem

The iCalamity system uses a combination of GPS, geofencing and mapping technologies to correctly pinpoint the location of mobile phone users on the ground. It also utilizes the Youphoric SMS API by telco Smart Communications and content provider YouPhoric labs.

Should the system fail to locate a specific person for notification — due to lack of signal or battery — the app automatically scrolls through a pre-defined list of other family members or friends until it finds a user with an active phone signal or data connection.

Cubos says this is also useful for rescue and relief workers in the area so they can immediately identify which individuals and areas need urgent help.

Smart senior manager for partner management and developer Delations Jim Ayson says that they will be working closely with iCalamity and other participants to “get them off the ground for use in the Yolanda relief efforts and in similar efforts in the future.”

ICalamity is available for free on the web. An app for iOS and Android is also in the works.


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