This spring, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office was supposed to be rolling out an app that would allow for anonymous reporting to prevent gun violence. In November, Amazon Web Services (AWS) selected Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner’s office as a 2019 City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge Winner, which meant the company committed to help design and implement the “HomeSafe1st app.”
However, with the COVID-19 outbreak, designers at AWS and Gardner’s team quickly switched gears. For the past few weeks, they have transformed the HomeSafe1st app into a way for people to access help during the coronavirus pandemic.
The app is live now as a web link and can be used on all platforms. Click here. It will eventually be available to download in an app store, but designers wanted to get the resource out as soon as possible.
People can use the app to self-report their symptoms and seek appropriate medical attention to help limit the spread of the virus and reduce strain on the healthcare system, Gardner said.
“This is an extremely difficult time for everyone in our city, country and around the world,” Gardner said, “and I want to take every step in my power to ensure the health and safety of my community.”
Powered by Amazon Web Services, a global leader in Cloud-based services, the app was initially distributed to circuit attorney employees for a pilot test. Now it is open for anyone to use.
How does it work? People can either click on the link, or if technology is a barrier, they can call 314-735-0220.
In the app, they will see a screen that asks a few questions, including what hospital is closest, what their symptoms are and if they have access to food and water.
If they enter their contact information, a volunteer will respond. The volunteers will call back and gather more information, or they will send the request directly to one of the four volunteer physicians.
The two nonprofit organizations that are initially providing volunteer health experts and call responders are the Islamic Foundation for Greater St. Louis and Artists First STL.
The app is meant to supplement other support lines that may get bogged down during the outbreak, including the city and county COVID-19 hotlines and hospitals, said Donnell “Malik” Sims, entity administrator, Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis.
Gardner approached the Islamic Foundation because of its work through the APPNA St. Louis Community Clinic on Saint Louis University’s campus, Sims said. The clinic meets the medical needs of the uninsured population in St. Louis. About 70 percent of Islamic Foundation’s members are physicians, and many volunteer at the clinic.
There is a segment of the population that doesn’t trust institutions and will be more likely to seek help through the app, Sims said.
“There are people who will call certain police officers and not others,” Sims said. “And nowadays, it’s not a race issue. It’s an issue of the haves and have nots. Rich people will probably not use this app. If they have the need, absolutely they can call. But they probably won’t.”
The app is designed to allow volunteers to work from home and communicate with each other through an interface. They will routinely call and check back in with people to make sure they have everything they need, he said.
“The need is great,” Sims said. “There is room for everyone to pitch in and help. That’s Kim’s aim and Amazon’s design. We want to help.”
The link to HomeSafe1st is http://homesafe1st.com/custom_form/. Or for the hotline, call 314-735-0220.