Northern Cass students reach national contest finals after designing app to give 911 callers options

Northern Cass School eighth-graders Halle Crockett, left, Noelle Erickson and Olivia Anderson are part of a social studies class whose project is a finalist in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. Special to The Forum
Northern Cass School eighth-graders Halle Crockett, left, Noelle Erickson and Olivia Anderson are part of a social studies class whose project is a finalist in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. Special to The Forum

HUNTER, N.D. — An eighth-grade social studies class has already secured $50,000 worth of technology for being among 10 finalists in a national contest sponsored by Samsung, and now the Northern Cass School District is poised to possibly win more.

Class instructor Ben Hannasch and three students will spend several days in early April in New York City presenting their project, a phone app, as part of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest.

The app is called EVA, which stands for Emergency Video Assistance.

EVA was designed to give anyone calling 911 a wide variety of options when communicating with first responders heading to a call, including regular phone conversation, video chat capability or simply text communication if other options aren't available.

EVA also has an emergency procedure system that callers can click into, according to Halle Crockett, a student in the class.

"You can search CPR, or heart attack, and it will take you through what to do if you're in that situation and it will also show you a video on how to do it," Crockett said.

"We kept this app very simple and easy to use," she added.

The relative isolation of Northern Cass School was part of the inspiration for the project, according to Jana Russiff, another student in Hannasch's class.

"Our school is 30-45 minutes away from Fargo, so it's kind of far and it takes first responders a really long time to get out here. We really didn't like that," Russiff said.

Student Mary Jodock said in creating the app the class consulted with a number of emergency agencies, including the Red River Regional Dispatch Center, which liked the concept but said it might not work for them because dispatch workers aren't trained to deal with video communication during a call.

Still, Hannasch and his students are optimistic the app could someday see use in the real world, facilitating communication between those who need help and those looking to provide it.

"We see lots of potential in this app," Jodock said.

To view a video about how the app was created and to see other contest finalists visit the Samsung contest website.

Also, those who visit www.samsung.com/us/solvefortomorrow can cast a vote for their favorite video. The project receiving the most votes will win an additional $10,000 worth of technology for the school involved.

Hannasch said if people share the Northern Cass School video on Facebook and Twitter, the school will receive an extra vote. He said people can vote once each day until Wednesday, March 27.

As part of the contest, judges will select three grand-prize winners who will receive $100,000 in technology.