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Senior Design Journey 2022: Saving Lives with an App, Part 1

Tristen Lawrence works on the front-end design of the college-centered app. (Eli Freund/UConn Photo)

 

By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn School of Engineering 

Personal safety is top of mind for most college students and currently, nearly 100 percent of college campuses have emergency blue light systems, but they are often spread far apart across campus and have declined in usage over time. Additionally, many incidents require discretion and can’t be reported using a blue light kiosk or through a phone call in the moment. And for emergency responders, every detail and every minute counts.

In response to the growing need for added safety on campus, five computer science and engineering students are working with ADT, the most trusted name in security, on their Senior Design project. Together, they are working on a new approach that could help provide a new safety response system on campus saving precious time.

The five seniors involved in the project are Tristen Lawrence, Brendan Henriques, Alex Le, Zhongqi Luo, and Anas Rajeh. While the students aren’t instituting the whole system, they are working on the front-facing interface that students, faculty, and staff would see when they’re submitting an incident.

Lawrence said that this product will be crucial for any college campus that has on-campus security or police that need information quickly.

“We’re delivering a front-end solution for UConn, or any university when an incident occurs so that there’s a clear communication platform with all the information needed for a dispatcher to send the necessary first responders. This is truly an innovative solution to 21st-century problems,” Lawrence said.

“In a high-level basic sense, it will be a dashboard, and we want all of the information to be easily readable and legible. The proposed technology could integrate with ADT’s emergency button app called ‘SoSecure by ADT,” which is a discrete app allowing someone to report a crime happening through chat, a slider, or a video chat,” said Henriques.

According to the SoSecure by ADT website, the app is a solution for people that need to contact authorities, but in situations that require discretion. The app uses tracking technology, and contacts family and close contacts in case of emergency or allows you to send alerts hands-free using a secret phrase or voice command.

With any Senior Design project, teams have highs and lows throughout the process, and one hurdle was learning the different programming languages they would need to build the new user experience.

“This happens with so many projects, but for us, we really struggled with the hurdle of what we didn’t know,” said Henriques. “Most of us here have never worked with a few of the technologies being used in this application, so we had to learn Angular, Agile, and a lot of HTML and CSS that you don’t get in a traditional computer science curriculum.”

As for the breakthroughs, a lot of the members of the group had never worked in a project setting like this, so the students agreed that getting on the same schedule, constantly communicating, and assigning specific roles allowed them to get on track and solidify a direction for the group.

“This is my first real project, so unlike Tristen and Brendan who have some experience, I didn’t have a grip on all the complexities that surround a project, so it took me a little while to get into the groove, but now I’m much better,” Rajeh said.

As for the next steps, the group will be continuing work into the winter and spring semesters, to have a working demo they can test out earlier in the Spring, working towards a completed project for Senior Design Demonstration Day on April 29.

 

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through senior design. Part two of this team’s journey will come out in April 2022.