Queen Margaret College students win international tech competition with tsunami app

A trio of Year 6 students at Queen Margaret College in Wellington have won an international competition after creating an app idea to help people evacuate during a tsunami.

Eimear Fitzgerald, Isabel Haupt and Jaskiran Rahi entered their “Evac-U-Buddy” app prototype in the “Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero” competition this year and won the New Zealand Primary School division in September.

The Australian and New Zealand competition aims to give girls the opportunity to get involved in the technology industry and selects a primary school and high school winner from each country. This year over a thousand girls entered, making up over 260 teams and products.

Isabel came up with the idea for Evac-U-Buddy, a live map-based home finder for tsunami evacuees, after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Wellington last November.

(L-R) Eimear Fitzgerald, Jaskiran Rahi and Isabel Haupt show Mayor of Wellington Justin Lester their app.

 

“I live in Seatoun and when the earthquake happened last year we had to evacuate up the hill. We had a friend’s house to go to but a lot of people didn’t have anywhere to go and had to sleep in their cars,” she says.

After coming up with the initial idea Isabel asked Jaskiran and Eimear to join her team and spent hours in the College Library developing their app which included planning, designing, and creating the app. They also had to produce a pitch and a demonstration video for the competition.

“You either register as an evacuee or as a host. When you are a host you fill in whether your house is dog friendly or baby friendly and how many people you can take. A pin will pop up on the map of your house so people know how to find you,” Eimear explains.

The girls learnt how to use MIT Appmaker and to block code, design buttons, wireframe the screen layouts and links and run an Android emulator as part of the project.

They also presented their app to WREMO and made further adaptations based on their recommendations.

The girls said they were thrilled to find out they had won the competition.

“I found out we won in the middle of the night and I was so excited,” Isabel says.

Since winning Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero the girls have met with the Mayor of Wellington, Justin Lester, to show him Evac-U-Buddy and attended the Xero Showcase for the National winners.

They will also decide whether they want to take their app further in a Technovation Camp round.

“At the moment our app is focused on Seatoun and tsunami evacuation because that’s where Eimear and I live but it could help with bushfire evacuation and other disasters overseas. If we do the next part of the competition we would have to work on how we could take it worldwide,” Isabel says. 

(L-R) Eimear Fitzgerald, Jaskiran Rahi and Isabel Haupt at Xero on Monday.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017