Saint Francis University’s Center of Excellence for Remote and Medically Under-Served Areas (CERMUSA) is proud to announce a licensing agreement for the Preliminary Disaster Assessment Reporting (PDAR) tool, a mobile emergency management application, with InVue Innovations, a Connellsville-based technology firm.
PDAR, an iPad-based software application (“app”) was created to assist first responders in conducting damage assessments following natural or man-made disasters. Developed in conjunction with Monmouth University, PDAR automates a disaster response process previously completed on paper. PDAR will go to market as part of the Emergency Management-Disaster Assessment Reporting Tool (emDART) series of products, a full suite of software being created by InVue to serve the first responder community.
“Emergency management personnel call these reports ‘windshield’ assessments,” states Michael Shanafelt, Lead Programmer/Systems Analyst for CERMUSA. “In the past, first responders would, quite literally, be filling out this paperwork from the seat of their vehicles.”
As a manual process, these damage assessments would be completed “in the field” and then compiled upon the first responder’s return to office/base, a time-consuming process. In addition, the manual conversion also allowed for additional levels of inaccuracy.
“Sometimes the assessment paperwork was misplaced or literally blown away,” states Shanafelt. “Additionally, the information that was gathered was often out of date by the time the first responders could file reports.”
The PDAR addresses these problems by enabling real-time data gathering and compilation. To use the PDAR, emergency management staff access the software by using an Apple iPad. The PDAR software guides the user through a standard form, including entry points for photos of the damage and observational details. GPS coordinates are automatically gathered through the iPad and/or web service via an embedded mapping program. Once completed, the form is automatically uploaded to a database via a cellular data network, where this information is immediately accessible to incident commanders or other responding agencies. In the event that a cellular data signal is not available, the assessment information is collected in an “offline” mode and can be uploaded once such a network is available. Incident commanders have access to all of this information via a secure web portal, where responses and reports can be quickly documented and produced.
To develop the application, CERMUSA partnered with Saint Francis University’s Computer Science department. Two students, Kevin Richardson and Aaron Vizzini were brought on to the project and worked a summer internship to create the PDAR application. Aaron, now a junior at the University felt positive about his experience in helping develop the application.
“Participating in this internship provided me with knowledge that I would normally not learn in the classroom,” he said. “Knowing that what I made will benefit others makes the experience even more rewarding as a developer.”
After the application was created and put through a series of beta tests, CERMUSA contacted the University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to discuss potential commercialization options. The SBDC reached out to their contacts throughout the state and identified potential clients that expressed interest in the product. One of these was InVue Innovations, who obtained the license to commercialize the application in August 2012 in the hope of supporting emergency management professionals and emergency medical services. This licensing agreement represents CERMUSA’s first foray into commercializing staff-developed technologies on a national scale. According to Shanafelt, InVue is already in process of developing customer leads with the potential of a fourth quarter commercial roll out.
inVue’s Carl Svitko stated that his company seldom encounters a product with such a ready-made niche.
“CERMUSA’s PDAR represented an eloquent response to a glaring gap in available emergency response tools,” he said. “Once we saw the technological readiness of this product and the thoroughness of its design, we were ready to partner with Saint Francis University to deliver this service to the folks that need it.”
These kinds of efforts also represent the ways in which Saint Francis University is transitioning the grant programs of the past into sustainable technology transfer arrangements. CERMUSA Director Jay Roberts explains how the organization is building a sustainable future by commercializing such research-based efforts.
“CERMUSA is a place of big ideas and rapid prototyping,” Roberts. “But the future of these kinds of technologies is in the commercial sector. We are excited to partner with InVue Innovations to transition this innovative technology to commercial deployment.”
For more information about Saint Francis University’s CERMUSA, please contact:
For more information about emDART, please visit: http://www.em-dart.com/