The Carnegie Mellon Practicum Has Arrived!

When I got accepted into the SE masters program at CM-SV, my most anticipated and nerve-wracking course was the always-off-in-the-distance practicum. The idea of working a legitimate software project with several of my classmates caused my mind to wander, chasing all of the possibilities while the concept of working potentially full-time simultaneously on two projects had me terrified. Well, the time has finally come as the practicum kicked off one week ago, today. The nerves are all but gone and the excitement is in full swing as I learn more about the project I’ve been placed on with several of my former teammates and one that, after only a week, is already hitting it off with the group as though we’ve worked together for months.

We’re working with several NASA Ames researchers that are working on the GeoCam project being sponsored by Google. Their goal is to provide a suite of tools to disaster first responders that utilize recent advances in mobile technologies to make search efforts more efficient and effective. As the first part of the GeoCam name hints, the projects focus on incorporating the capture of geolocation data into disaster response protocols.

The most mature of the tools and the inspiration for the project name is GeoCam Photo, an image capturing application that attaches geolocation data and allows users to label and classify images before synchronizing them with a central server. This data can be useful in coordinating, documenting and analyzing the actions of disaster response team members in the field. The application consists of a client and server component, written using the Android SDK and the Django framework respectively.

Our project (or projects), which are still being brainstormed, should provide similar functionality within the disaster response domain. We’re looking into options that range from providing more direct push-to-talk communication to a status monitor that would analyze movement using a phone’s accelerometer and compass and alert search team managers when they’re in potential imminent danger. We’ve set up a Google Sites landing for the project and intend to update it regularly as we further define the project.