How an applied research project with a long-time WIMTACH collaborator helped students learn valuable skills for their future.

A group photo of the team during the last meeting with Interdev representatives.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge, healthcare innovation has become a global priority. The healthcare landscape has been rapidly evolving across Canada over the past year, mainly due to the pandemic. People are looking for new ways to optimize their healthcare and find innovative and convenient tech-driven solutions to their health problems. WIMTACH’s latest client project with long-time collaborator Interdev, Toronto based software solution provider focused in the Paramedic Service market, aims to do just that, all while providing students with valuable resources and skills that they can apply to their future careers.

What began as an idea at one of WIMTACH’s famous hackathons quickly evolved into an applied research project aimed at tackling the vulnerability of isolated people in initial non-medical emergencies. This project came to be known as Situational Awareness of Vulnerable Populations, or SAVE, which would allow vulnerable sectors to contact a volunteer when they require assistance directly. Interdev believes SAVE can revolutionize how vulnerable groups receive aid for emergencies and assist the medical health sector most closely related to Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), including Fire Services and EMS. Their goal is to implement the technology worldwide for the broader public to help all public safety officials and first responders.

“The general comment that got returned to us was WOW, why don’t we have this already? Why isn’t this already in place?” said Terence Kuehn, CEO of Interdev Technologies Inc. when discussing the SAVE application. “I think this is the first time people have looked at more of a preparedness and proactive [approach and said] let’s not try to figure it out while it’s happening,” he added.

Over the past several months, student researchers have been hard at work creating the SAVE web and mobile applications under the guidance of Interdev and WIMTACH specialists. For many students involved in the project, this was their first time working with brand new WebRTC technology. While they acknowledged the initial learning curve the new software presented, they were excited about getting the opportunity to learn a new system and finally be able to use language in the mobile app development world.

As the project evolved, so too did their ambitions. Many team members – including students Archana Chandra Kumar, Hyunjong (Johnny) Shin, Kunwoo Yoon and Dewalker Agarwal – believed the app could revolutionize how emergency medical professionals reach vulnerable sectors. Like the Interdev team, they too would like to see SAVE become a household name.

Along with their growing ambitions, the students enjoyed the opportunity to work on such a large-scale project with a high-profile client. Archana Chandra Kumar, a student developer at WIMTACH, described her initial excitement about working on the project. “It was exciting to work with a project that involved improving situational awareness [and] aiding vulnerable people by coordinating with volunteers. Moreover, taking Dual roles as Quality Analyst and Team facilitator for the project is what excited me the most.”

Like Archana, the entire student development team was excited to work on a team project and apply the knowledge they gained from their Centennial College programs throughout the process. Along with their existing skills, they learned new critical skills that will better prepare them for the job market, including the use of applications such as JIRA & Trello. Additionally, the opportunity to be part of a large development team allowed students the chance to grow their collaboration, communication, time management and presentation skills.

However, the most rewarding part of the project for Archana and the rest of the team was seeing the SAVE application run and perform as expected once completed. Through this partnership, WIMTACH provided the students with a newfound sense of confidence and optimism for all their future endeavours. We know they will achieve great things in their field!

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