San Jose: local leaders use technology to help save lives

By February 22, 2012
Keywords : Smart city, America
mobile phone with rescue sign floatting

Through collaborative efforts among the fire department, the local hospital and the Pulse Point application, the city of San Jose helps those suffering from cardiac arrest nearby. Users who are CPR trained are notified if nearby victims need help.


In a partnership between the San Jose Fire Department and El Camino Hospital, the Pulse Point application allows willing CPR users to be points of contact in the event someone is suffering from a cardiac emergency and needs CPR. After someone calls 911, the dispatcher determines what's going on and interrogates the caller to assess the situation. In addition to being an application, Pulse Point software is integrated into a dispatcher's computer system looks at what the dispatcher has determined the call to be to figure out whether CPR is needed. This predetermined algorithm notifies registered CPR Pulse Point users in the vicinity of a victim suffering from cardiac arrest. The address of the victim is sent to nearby Pulse Point users who are then able to perform CPR before paramedics arrive, potentially saving someone's life.

Leveraging local, social and mobility 

This application is in line with the current trend of SoLoMo – Social Local Mobile. The main benefit of the services that that Pulse Point offers is that it capitalizes on the mobility of its users at a hyper-local scale – a neighborhood. Neighbors from the town of San Jose can help out each other through this “social” app. The smartphone GPS locates users who are within walking distance and potentially deploys them to the site of someone suffering from cardiac arrest. A lot of apps have been developed lately that leverage the power of hyper local communities for social good. Though the application is the only of its kind in the health-care industry, other fields are looking to capitalize on geolocation features. Examples include using GPS technology to allow off-duty police offers of crimes in progress, enabling them to reduce the time it would take for a police squad to be dispatched.

Technology encourages civic engagement

The apps is a joint initiative from San Jose’s a fire department and its hospital, but college interns and IT workers were also involved. The entire professional team was recruited locally and worked in conjunction with the Pulse Point foundation to build the application infrastructure. The company also turned to Work Day, Inc., a human capital management company, to handle the growing interest in the application around the world and to develop it for other platforms than the iPhone. Considering the first few minutes after a cardiac arrest are crucial for saving lives, the application demonstrates a collaborative effort by community leaders to use technology for their community’s benefit. The app also encourages civic engagement in the city. A few apps have been developed recently that encourage mutual help between neighbors in order to develop an economy based on “sharing” – whether it is sharing skills, objects or offering help etc. Technology can help reinforcing the ties between hyper local community members, especially when boosted by local leaders. 

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