The NSW emergency service took out the prize and a $30,000 donation to the organisation, in the Vodafone Foundation App Aid competition, for its Responder App which was created to save lives. The app provides support to the ambulance service volunteers responding to emergency situations, allowing them to quickly access essential information when they are out in the field, including patient guides and checklists.
Second place in the competition and a prize of $10,000 went to Oz Harvest, with an app to help tackle food waste in Australia. The app allows restaurants and cafes to notify OzHarvest when they have available food for rescue in real time so they can then collect more food in a timely manner in order to feed more disadvantaged people.
St John Ambulance and OzHarvest were two of ten charities that signed up for the App Aid challenge, which connected charities with volunteer App developers.
As well as having to meet the challenge of developing their apps in just 48 hours, each of the teams then had to front Silicon-Valley heavyweight and former Apple chief evangelist, Guy Kawasaki, in a Dragons’ Den inspired pitch, as part of the charity initiative.
All ten participating charities pitched to Kawasaki, with prototype apps designed to facilitate donations, fostering volunteering, entertaining seriously ill kids and finding homes for pets, prompting him to comment that “some of the ideas presented to our judging panel at App Aid have been on par with what I’ve seen in Silicon Valley.”
“St John Ambulance proved to our panel that their idea could assist in saving lives on a state and a national level. The passion from the winning team was clearly demonstrated through their inspiring and convincing pitch.
“OzHarvest also produced an appealing and practical app concept. Their idea translated well, and I’m looking forward to seeing the idea come to life,” Kawasaki said.
With the St John Responder app, the GPS capability of the iPhone is used to show where an emergency is located on a map, with crucial information about the status and nature of the emergency able to be shared through the entire St John organisation, allowing logistical response to be optimised.
The Head of the Vodafone Foundation, Demelza Farr, said over 150 entries in App Aid were received from Australian charities.
“To have that many reputable NGOs eager to participate in this completely new and strange world of software development and to put themselves through 48 gruelling hours, really demonstrates how Australian charities are finding the need to turn to apps to reach their communities in a new and relevant way.
“Technology is changing the way NGOs work. There is this new gravity towards using mobile to overcome humanitarian challenges. Technology is being used to connect families from disaster, empower health workers with data to help combat disease, track the impacts of climate change and so much more. Our goal with App Aid is to spur mobile innovation to help solve some of the challenges faced by charities and their communities.”