Summer Development Projects

Between May 18 and July 24th, 2009, we conducted the second NSF supported Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software (HFOSS) Summer Institute. We had a total of 12 student participants from 5 colleges (5 from Trinity College, 5 from Wesleyan University, 1 from University of Hartford, and 1 from University of Connecticut). With a sister institute at Connecticut College with 3 students.

Below is a brief summary of the development projects our interns worked on. The students were engaged in developing free and open source software for seven different humanitarian projects. Four of the projects (Sahana, OpenMRS, InSTEDD and GNOME) are well-established international projects; two are custom software developments for the New York City Office of Emergency Management and the Hartford Public Library; and one is a project to develop a Google-Android-based portable handset device for use in crisis management.

The GNOME accessibility team (Foster Nichols, Ryan Gee, Rachel Foecking) worked on two projects: MouseTrap, a program that moves the mouse cursor using webcam tracking, and VizAudio, an alert system that replaces sound effects with visual effects. The team worked with developers from GNOME accessibility project, Flavio Percoco Premoli Rohan Anil and Bryen Yunashko, located in Italy, India and California respectively. VizAudio is written in C as a backend for the libcanberra sound library. MouseTrap is written in Python and uses OpenCV (the open source computer vision library) for image processing. “Accessibility projects are important, especially for a program like HFOSS. We hope that future HFOSS interns will continue to work with GNOME on accessibility, and that HFOSS will look to start accessibility projects on other platforms, and keep accessibility in mind for all of their projects.”

Collabbit is a communication tool for facilitating group communication during times of disaster. With advice from William Anderson of the New York City Office of Emergency Management, Collabbit has grown from a concept to a PHP prototype to an extendable, maintainable Ruby on Rails application. Eli Fox-Epstein and Dimitar Gochev developed the greenfield project with assistance from Sam DeFabbia-Kane, Antonio Alcorn, and Qianqian Lin. Collabbit is in alpha phase with a scheduled launch before the end of the year.

One of our more abstract and research focused projects was working with InSTEDD on the Evolve effort to predict and prevent the spread of diseases. More specifically, HFOSS students concentrated on augmenting the knowledge of an article by searching for specific terms from an disease ontology. The students were trying to find a way for news feeds to be analyzed and given a probability score of what disease might be discussed there given certain keywords, to assist in identifying potential disease outbreak. The project was worked on by Nicolae Dragu, and Fouad El Khoury, mentored by Nicolas di Tada from Instedd.

Developed by Sam DeFabbia-Kane, the Remarks module allows clinicians to add comments and narrative to patient records in OpenMRS. It is built as a plugin for OpenMRS and the main technologies used are Hibernate and Spring. Sam received technical guidance from Darius Jazayeri, lead developer for OpenMRS.

POSIT (Portable Open Search and Identification Tool) is an application developed in Java, on the Google Android software platform. POSIT is built for rescue work, science, or other collaborative ventures, allowing those involved to easily share information among themselves and a central server. For example, a botanist doing field research may record information such as geographic location, a description, photos, audio, or video, about an interesting plant with POSIT. This information will then be synchronized with all others running POSIT. The project was started by Prasanna Gautam, Trishan de Lanerolle, and Professor Ralph Morelli in the Summer of 2008. This summer, Antonio Alcorn (UConn), Gong Chen (Trinity), Chris Fei (Trinity), and Qianqian Lin (Wesleyan) continued work on the project. The group is satisfied with the work completed this summer, however they look to continue the development of POSIT.

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