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Students develop time-saving app for disaster volunteer check-ins

Kumamoto, Feb. 10 (Jiji Press)–University students from the city of Kumamoto in southwestern Japan have developed a smartphone app that greatly reduces the amount of time needed for volunteers to check in for disaster relief activities.
   

The “Sai Bora QR” app was developed on the basis of the experiences of disaster relief efforts in the aftermath of the April 2016 earthquakes that hit the city and other areas in Kumamoto Prefecture.
   

The free app shows quick response, or QR, codes after volunteers register their names and contact details on the program on their smartphones beforehand. The QR codes are scanned at volunteer bases set up disaster areas, and the data are automatically sent to relevant personal computers.
   

“It’s done in only about 10 seconds per person, allowing volunteers to secure longer time for relief activities,” a representative involved in the development of the app said.
   

Volunteer check-ins have so far required participants to write down their information on paper, which people at volunteer center manually entered into PCs later. Such methods are time-consuming. After powerful Typhoon Hagibis hit Japan last October, some volunteer check-in procedures took over 90 minutes in the central city of Nagano, which saw heavy damage from the disaster.
   

“The start of relief activities was delayed as a result, hindering the operations,” an official at the city’s social welfare council said.
   

In 2018, the social welfare council of the city of Kumamoto asked the laboratory of Prof. Ichiro Iimura at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto’s Faculty of Administrative Studies to develop an app to help resolve the issue.
   

A total of 11 third- and fourth-year students in the laboratory created the Sai Bora QR app in about a year.
   

“We devised it so that it can function in disaster sites which do not have internet connection,” Shunsuke Suzuki, 23, a fourth-year student and leader of the development team, said.
   

The city government of Kumamoto plans to call on local communities around the country to adopt the new app, he said.

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