Innovation Cities

How to save a life with an app

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
The rise of health apps
The rise of health apps

Whether it's apps that tell us how far we've walked or run, or how many calories are in our meals, today's technology is helping us keep tabs on how healthy we've become – or how much we've fallen behind.

One such app, PulsePoint, can be used to help save a life. "PulsePoint is a mobile application that alerts citizens who are CPR-trained of nearby cardiac arrests so they can get CPR started while the crews are still en route," Richard Price, President of the PulsePoint Foundation, said in a report for CNBC's Innovation Cities.

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Using cloud technology, the app connects with local emergency communication centers of emergency services signed up to the program. When a cardiac arrest takes place in a nearby public space, subscribers in areas covered by the app – which is currently available in over 350 communities across 14 states in the U.S. – are notified with a push notification and an alert tone on their phone, followed by a map showing the precise location of the emergency.

Sudden Cardiac arrests account for roughly 325,000 deaths per year in the U.S. Today, 75,000 people have PulsePoint on their phones, although it is impossible to verify how many users are CPR trained.

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A former fire chief in California, the inspiration for the app came to Price in an unusual place. "The original idea came from an incident where I was having lunch in a deli and was surprised by a crew arriving to a cardiac arrest that was happening right next door that I wasn't aware of," Price said. "We knew that all that time the crew was travelling to the scene we could have CPR in progress sooner," he added.

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While PulsePoint is helping save lives, motor company Ford has developed technology to help those who suffer from allergies. Ford's SYNC system, which allows drivers to change radio stations and check the weather with simple voice commands, is now enabling users to stay healthy with the Allergy Alert App, developed by IMS Health.

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The app, "enables a consumer – who might be someone who's concerned with asthma or breathing conditions – to get the pollen count in their regional area as well as a forecast of what the pollen count…[is] going to be," Barb Samardzich, Vice President of Product Development, Ford Europe, told CNBC. In addition, the app also provides alerts on flu indexes and UV conditions.

While an app that informs you of pollen levels may seem like a novelty, Jack Uldrich, a global futurist who predicts worldwide trends, argues that the significance of such technology should not be underestimated. "Apps are going to change the way we interact with our healthcare providers," he told CNBC.

"Today we're monitoring ourselves, our activity, to an extraordinary level and we can use that information to change our behaviour and engage in healthier practices," he added.

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