Participants in a "crowdsourcing" challenge in Philadelphia used a smart phone application to locate, photograph and map more than 1,400 automated external defibrillators in public places, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012.
Crowdsourcing is when the public conducts tasks traditionally done by a company, individual or a group with special skills.
Although automated external defibrillators (AEDs) have become increasingly available in public places, including gyms, schools, office buildings and retail shops, there is no centralized database of their locations, and their use in emergencies remains low, said Raina Merchant, M.D., lead researcher of the study and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
As part of the MyHeartMap Challenge, researchers recruited volunteers to use a smart phone app to locate, photograph and map the location of public AEDs. More than 313 teams and individuals found AEDs in more than 500 buildings throughout Philadelphia. The buildings included gyms (19 percent), schools (16 percent) and offices (11 percent).
Individuals or teams who located the most AEDs received monetary prizes.
"Rapid defibrillation is an essential link in the 'Chain of Survival' that's necessary to save cardiac arrest victims. AEDs provide this, but we first need to know where they are," Merchant said. "An estimated one million AEDs have been sold throughout the country, but because they are not subject to the same FDA regulations as implantable medical devices, we need to map their location."
Researchers created the contest to investigate whether crowdsourcing is a viable public health surveillance project.
The data collected will be used to create a new mobile app to help bystanders locate the nearest AED during emergencies and for 9-1-1 operators to direct bystanders to AEDs while paramedics are en route to the scene.
"Each AED located during the MyHeartMap Challenge represents an opportunity to save lives," Merchant said. "We found that crowdsourcing is a feasible approach for identifying AED locations throughout a major city and GPS technology can validate health data provided by the public. Engaging the public as 'citizen scientists' can help identify emergency health resources and needs, while simultaneously improving awareness about them."
Most participants were students or medical professionals, and older people responded more often than younger people.
"When we started, we thought most participants would be younger students, but many of them were over age 40 and one prize winner was over 60," Merchant said. "So much for the digital divide."
Co-authors are David A. Asch, M.D., M.BA.; Victoria Vetter, M.D.; John C. Hershey, Ph.D.; Shawndra Hill, Ph.D.; Charles Branas, Ph.D.; Graham Nichol, M.D.; Larry Starr, Ph.D.; Eric Stone, Ed.M, M.B.A.; Heather Griffis, Ph.D.; Lance Becker, M.D.; and research assistants Jeremy Asch, Alison Leung, Kirk Lozada, Lindsay Nadkarni and Olivia Saynisch.
Author disclosures are on the abstract.
The study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars Program at the University of Pennsylvania and AED manufacturers Physio-Control, Seattle, Wash.; Zoll Medical, Boston, Mass.; Cardiac Science, Bothell, Wash.; and Philips Medical, Seattle. Additional funding was provided by The Medtronic Foundation Heart Rescue Project, The Penn University Research Fund and the McCabe Fund.
Follow news from the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012 via Twitter: @HeartNews.
Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at www. heart.org/corporatefunding.
Note: Actual presentation is 11:30 a.m. PT/ 2:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 in the Gold Ballroom at the JW Marriott at LA Live.
All downloadable video/audio interviews, B-roll, animation and images related to this news release are on the right column of the release link at http://newsroom.heart.org/pr/aha/_prv-people-in-crowdsourcing-challenge-239555.aspx.
Video clips with researchers/authors of studies will be added to the release links after embargo.
General B-roll and Photos
AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.