There's An App For That

September 28th, 2017
There's An App For That
An app developed by Hills resident Trent Bowden and business partner and friend Scott Belcher is expected to keep the community safer this bushfire season.

Using data from sentinel satellites, ‘Wildfire’ allows members of the community to see potential threats on an interactive map thanks to thermal signatures that show the location and intensity of a bushfire.

Trent explained that developing the app had personal significance for him after growing up in Mylor and experiencing the threat of bushfires.

“Growing up in the Hills, we always had strict guidelines in place about what to do if there was an emergency,” Trent said.

“My family had quite a comprehensive bushfire plan. But I guess as I grew up I could see that other families didn’t go to the same level of preparation as we did.

“I could see the benefits of being prepared and having as much information as possible and so the development of the ideas for the app were largely around supporting a community’s ability to prepare for the worst.”

Trent and Scott first pitched the idea back in April during a hackathon.

“A hackathon is a chance to come up with ideas for software and it’s often attended by programmers or interface designers,” Trent said.

“Scott and I attended a hackathon that was part of the NASA Space App Challenge and we had a short amount of time to come up with concepts for our app and then pitch it to other attendees.

“But we actually only attended the event because we heard there was going to be free food.

“Scott was quite apprehensive about going because he hadn’t worked with coding before, but we bounced off each other quite well and brought different strengths to the idea.

“When we came up with the idea for Wildfire the concept itself was quite infectious.

“We couldn’t stop thinking about it and we were developing concepts further and stretching out how the app could work.”

Trent and Scott were recognised as global nominees in the NASA Space App challenge for the concepts for Wildfire.

“The whole thing was quite unexpected, really,” Trent said.

“Since entering the competition we’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with Moonshot Space, a company who have worked with us in actually developing our ideas into a viable application.

“From here we’re looking to start trials of the app in Mylor in October.

“We’ll give a small group of people access to the app and ask them to have a go at reporting incidences or using different elements of the Wildfire app and then provide us with some feedback on their experience.

“And we’re hoping to gradually introduce the app throughout the Hills as a tool to help residents prepare for the bushfire season.”

Trent explained that the app has multiple functions, not just the map showing fire locations.
“We wanted the app to be useful out of fire season as well,” Trent said.

“So it has a module where people can learn about fire safety or even start formulating their bushfire safety plan.

“When it is fire season the app will allow people to see where incidents are occurring but can also track the movements of family members and see if they are safe.

“The app allows you to verify other users to ‘see’ your location so that family or friends can keep track of each other in emergency situations.

“It is very much in its initial stages but we’re looking forward to seeing how Wildfire can be implemented in the community.”

Following their success in the NASA Space App challenge Trent and Scott won the opportunity to work with a company to develop their ideas into a business.

Moonshot Space help people use space technology to solve global problems and their programs provide practice, peer support and mentorship.

CEO Troy McCann has been working with the pair on developing the app.

“We have a joke that turning an idea into an overnight success takes around 10 years – it’s very hard work and requires a lot of passion,” he said.

“But that doesn’t mean that an app like Wildfire needs to take a decade to be useful to the community. It is very important to consult the community in the development process.

“They need to talk to many potential users and customers to understand the details of the problems they’re looking to solve.

“For Trent and Scott, this is just the beginning, and I think we can look forward to seeing much more from them in the future.”

Keep up to date with the app development at http://www.trentoscott.co

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