iSchool Doctoral Student Part of Winning Team in ASIS&T Student Design Competition

iSchool Doctoral Student Part of Winning Team in ASIS&T Student Design Competition

P. Kenyon Crowley, a doctoral student in the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies, Maryland’s iSchool, and deputy director of the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems in the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, was a member of the winning team in the Student Design Competition at the 2014 Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T) Annual Meeting.

Crowley’s team, which also comprised of Krista Parham, a master’s student from the University of British Columbia, and Zach Frazier, a doctoral student from the University of South Carolina, won for their crises informatics design concept, Disaster Box, a rapidly deployable resilient, parallel, information infrastructure and communication system for use in disaster situations.

The Disaster Box system is designed to solve one of the most pressing needs in the event of a disaster—the disruption of normal communication network and information infrastructures.  Combining lessons from social science, emergency management best practices, the natural sciences (“biomimicry”) and recent technological advances, Disaster Box would allow individuals to use mobile devices to transmit and receive information from loved ones, emergency responders and their fellow community members even when traditional cellular networks are down or overloaded. This drone, bicycle, by-foot or automobile deployable  capability, which includes a specialized mobile application, would allow individuals impacted by disaster to help themselves in finding dispersed loved ones and locating necessary services, receive credible news, as well as provide emergency responders with the necessary information to deploy services more effectively and timely. 

“It was a challenging and rewarding opportunity to apply the lessons from the iSchool towards an innovative yet feasible solution that could have real impact in times of crises," says Crowley. "In fact, Disaster Box is now working with interested partners to take next steps in forwarding the concept as an open source project."

Now in its fifth year, the ASIS&T Student Design competition is judged by a jury of information science leaders and conference attendees. All members of Team Disaster Box will receive complementary registration to the 2015 ASIS&T Annual Meeting.