Engineering Alum Preet Anand's Company BlueLight Contributes To White House "Smart Cities" Initiative
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sept. 18, 2015 – President Barack Obama announced the “Smart Cities” Initiative last week to help local communities modernize the ways they manage traffic, crime, and growth. One of the contributors leading the effort is mobile 911 app creator BlueLight, founded by a Santa Clara University alumnus.
BlueLight was created by Preet Anand, who studied engineering physics at SCU. The app addresses the deficiency in 911 response times from mobile devices. Emergency response systems are still based on landlines; with a standard call from a mobile phone, it can take up to six minutes for responders to receive location information, often only as specific as within three blocks.
In areas where the BlueLight app is supported, it will route your call based on your position and provide your location. Otherwise, if someone is outside of the BlueLight network, it will make a regular 911 call. BlueLight pinpoints the location and reaches the closest responder – local or campus police or other appropriate emergency services. The service is available on over 250 college campuses as well as at sites such as corporate campuses and ski resorts.
“Emergency response is the most vital function of any community, and it is far behind the rest of the world technologically,” Anand said. “This service can make people safer.”
To earn a place in the $160 million Smart Cities Initiative, BlueLight was one of two winners of the Multi-City Innovation Campaign. As part of the Smart Cities program, BlueLight will test a pilot program in four cities beginning in 2016. Mountain View has agreed to be part of the program, and discussions are under way with Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Green Bay.
In addition to the 911 function, BlueLight offers services to users in any location. One primary service is OnMyWay. Users can choose contacts and enter a destination; BlueLight then shows the user’s trip on a map and alerts contacts when the user has arrived safely.
The subscription service is free for 30 days and then $19.99 per year, or $9.99 per year for a student with a .edu email address.
Anand was part of SCU’s 2009 Solar Decathlon team, which won third place in the U.S. Department of Energy contest to build a solar-powered home. Anand left SCU when he received a lucrative offer to become Zynga’s youngest lead product manager. However, the University’s Jesuit teachings and emphasis on the public good have always resonated with him, and BlueLight was a way to pair his skills with those ideals.
About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see www.scu.edu.
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