Signal 365

Stay Connected | Be Safe

Photo of Neil Suri

Written by

Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

06/17/2003

Where are you located:

Oakton, Virginia, 22124

Date Started

08/12/1017

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

Although not personally affected by this issue, I have always cared deeply for those who fall victim to hurricanes. I have a number of family members who live in Florida and have been affected by the recent hurricanes in the area. Year after year on the news we see the massive destruction from hurricanes. For many years I have thought about ways to help. I am stepping up to this challenge because I want to make sure that the next time a hurricane strikes there isn't a single life lost that could've been saved.

As a 14-year-old, it's been a constant uphill battle to convince adults that as a high schooler I can create change in my community. When applying for a grant from the US Army we found out that they only realized our age after we had beaten older competitors for the $6,000 prize. LearnServe International helped me to develop my idea into a social venture.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

During natural disasters, cell tower are often incapacitated. This causes a lack of communication between those who need medical care and first responders. There were over 1500 deaths caused by delayed medical care during Hurricane Maria. Many of these deaths could've been prevented with prompt medical care. The only solution to this problem is a new form of communication that doesn't totally rely on cell towers.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Signal 365 is a smartphone application that utilizes cutting-edge technology to create a Bluetooth Mesh Network. Signal 365 leverages the existing technology within smartphones to create a cost-effective and efficient method of communication with first responders. It uses peer-to-peer connections between existing Bluetooth devices to create an ad-hoc network of devices in the same geographical area.

When someone uses Signal 365, their phone connects to all nearby devices and sends the message to everyone within 150 ft. The message is then forwarded from each of the recipients to everyone else nearby. Due to the limited range of Bluetooth, this technology can only help those in urban areas. To learn about how the technology works please see the attached video.

The target communities for Signal 365 are coastal communities throughout the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. These at-risk communities, mostly in the South-East, are yearly slammed with Category 5 hurricanes. Signal 365 doesn’t aim to decrease the intensity of hurricanes but rather to help affected citizens.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Last year the US was hit with three major Category 5 hurricanes. One of the most devastating hurricanes was Hurricane Maria. Hurricane Maria slammed Puerto Rico with 175 mph winds and days of treacherous rainfall. In the aftermath of this catastrophic hurricane, many areas were left without cell access for weeks before it was restored. During this time, people in areas with no cell service were unable to reach out to first responders for medical help. By the time help arrived, hours or days later, the situation was worse and often become fatal.

With Signal 365 you can communicate, using the Bluetooth-enabled application, with first responders and receive much faster help than would be otherwise possible. This increases the chance that you are able to make a full recovery from the original injury that caused you to need the first responders.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Currently, the best solution to the problem of communication during natural disasters is satellite phones which are clunky and expensive, usually costing over $1000, which makes them inaccessible to a majority of the population. Comparatively, our app is nearly free (cost TBD) and smartphones with Bluetooth are ubiquitous. The advancements that we've made in Mesh-Networking with Bluetooth enable a viable, alternative form of communication that does not fully rely on cellular technology. We believe we are the only people who are currently using Bluetooth based Mesh-Networking for social good

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

So far, we have created a prototype application for testing and demo purposes. From the success of our prototype, we have concluded that not only is Bluetooth Mesh-Networking a valid solution to the problem of communication during natural disasters, but it is reliable, effective, and can operate in a variety of situations.

Additionally, we have started raising money to help bring our application to market. We raised $6,000 from the US Army to continue prototype development and research. We used some of that money to develop our current prototype. This May, we won $5,000 from the World Series of Entrepreneurship.

Our goal is to ensure that when the next natural disaster strikes there isn't a single person who dies because they couldn't reach a first responder in time. We will have succeeded when our application is on every phone in a natural disaster zone.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

In the next 12 months, we plan to be at the point where we are able to confidently say through rigorous and scientific testing that our application is ready to be deployed for the public use. We also want to encrypt all messages being sent through Signal 365 with 256-bit encryption. This will ensure the security of all messages being sent. At this point, we should be applying for grants and other sources of income in order to bring our application to the level in which we can release the application to the public. We will also engage in talks with government departments such as FEMA and the DoD. We hope that we can collaborate with these organizations to help save lives.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

In order to make a major application that is used by a large number of people we need to make sure that our app can firstly, handle a load of many users at the same time and secondly, we need to ensure that it is easy to use for the average American. In order to complete these activities, we will need to recruit team members to help us. We already have a team of 4, but we hope to recruit more members to help us. We will also have to raise capital. Although we have already raised $11,000 we will need much more in order to bring our bring our dream to reality. We will look for funding from a variety of sources including government funding from the state and federal level and donations from private institutions.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Donations over $10k

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

We are currently working to recruit other young and dedicated individuals to join us in creating this application. Although we are already a team of four we are looking to recruit new team members. We are adding two new team members that have technical computer science experience and two others who have experience with fundraising and marketing.

We are also partnering with another organization run by youth that helps social entrepreneurs to raise money to create social change. In a partnership, they would help us raise funds and we would help them by becoming their model for change making in our community.

In addition, we are always looking for new people to partner with or other young leaders who can provide insight and help us in our mission.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Word of mouth

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

LearnServe International

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 40%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 40%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 20%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 20%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 60%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 20%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 40%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 60%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 20%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 40%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 20%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 20%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

14 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Dhruv Khurana
Team

Hey Neil!

I absolutely loved your 1-minute video; you speak with amazing passion and conviction and it's so inspiring! Your idea is a really innovative solution that has the potential to save many lives!

As a computer science student myself - I have a question on how this would work! Bluetooth pairing requires consent from the other device right? Would you have to work with the Mobile OS developers at Google and Apple to connect through Bluetooth automatically? Or are there APIs to help you do just this?

Photo of Neil Suri
Team

Hi Dhruv,
Thanks for your question! The app is only currently available for Android so I can only speak for Andriod. But, with Android, the user is available to give the application permission to edit and create new Bluetooth connections. This allows us to do any connection or disconnecting that is necessary.

All the best,
Neil Suri

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