Monday, April 6

Alumni develop emergency notification app as alternative to BruinAlert

Alumni created MassKnowtify, an app that would work similarly to BruinAlert to more quickly notify students of crime based on location. (Nick Yu/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Two UCLA alumni created a mobile application last year that aims to improve the efficiency of emergency notifications in communities and address response time, relevancy and other technological limitations of other similar programs.

Jon Dearing, a UCLA Anderson School of Management alumnus, and Wade Norris, a School of Engineering and Applied Science alumnus, said officials from organizations that use the application, called MassKnowtify, can send targeted alerts to people based on users’ locations.

“Users can decide the type of alerts they receive, such as police or public transit notifications,” Dearing said. “They can also receive alerts based on customized locations such as the user’s home, work and other frequented locations.”

Dearing said the application targets users to the nearest meter to ensure the alerts are relevant, and can also notify users traveling into affected areas.

MassKnowtify sends out push notifications instead of text messages because texts are often limited by servers that may not be able to handle the amount of messages that need to be sent, Dearing said. He added push notifications are sent over 100 times faster than text messages.

(Courtesy of Jon Dearing)

A BruinAlert message was sent regarding the the police incident in Tiverton Avenue last Tuesday an hour after the incident was confirmed by several news organizations. Many UCLA community members said they were disappointed with BruinAlert’s responsiveness in the situation.

“The alert came after most people already knew about the issue and was practically useless,” said Leonard Haller, a third-year neuroscience student.

Hannah Chung, a third-year biochemistry student, said she thinks there needs to be a serious upgrade to the BruinAlert system to ensure such incidents are handled efficiently and with care.

Dearing said MassKnowtify staff members have worked with the Santa Monica government to display emergency dispatch feeds in real time on the application.

“Push notifications would have been much faster (for BruinAlert), and that’s one of the key aspects of our platform,” Dearing said.

Dearing added he hopes local governments and campuses across the nation will use his application to share information about emergencies.

“The application hasn’t yet been implemented on campuses,” Dearing said. “Many of them are tied down by the outdated systems they are using.”

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