AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

Mission to Make the World a Safer Place through Crowdsourced Intelligence

LiveSafe, a mobile safety communications platform for crowdsourced intelligence, was born from a spirit of triumph over tragedy and the desire to make the world a safer place. The founding team saw an opportunity to mobilize and connect people through technology. As a victim of assault and a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting, Shy Pahlevani and Kristina Anderson wondered if they could build tools with the goal of preventing incidents like those they experienced before they occur.

How it works

LiveSafe is putting safety in everyone’s hands to prevent incidents and directly connect people to the help they need. Via the mobile safety app installed on individuals’ smartphones, every submission via text, photo or video is collected with location data to facilitate two-way communication between students and campus security and actionable responses from real-time information. Data can also be submitted anonymously, protecting an individual’s identity while still providing critical information to relevant officials.

Top considerations in a mobile world

To scale rapidly during times of instances, like a security threat on campus or at a stadium, and provide end users with the information to connect, inform, and mobilize, LiveSafe turned to the AWS Cloud.

“When LiveSafe was originally starting up, the team attended an AWS conference and took a hands-on class. Once they saw the ease of use and breadth of services (plus the startup-friendly pricing) they decided it was the right platform for us, and we have been using AWS ever since,” Matt Hagopian, VP of Technology, LiveSafe, said.

When considering the technology needed to run mobile apps, LiveSafe looked at many elements including:

  • Scalability: The ability to test and monitor apps without worrying about provisioning, scaling, and managing the infrastructure was a top priority. Amazon’s Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) helps scale LiveSafe’s API services layer as they see additional demand from end users.
  • Reliability: The app needs to work with users no matter where they are, and on the devices of their choice, without disruption.
  •  Security: The data needs to be secure, and the information shared needs to get into the hands of the right person, securely. LivesSafe utilizes Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) to help separate public from private data, as well as production from staging environments. They then make sure to encrypt clients’ data at rest, both in the file system (leveraging Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) file level encryption) and at the row level (utilizing AWS Key Management Service (KMS) to help manage their keys external from the encrypted data).
  • User Engagement: Tracking usage and user engagement with push notifications remains a key success factor for the app. When an emergency incident occurs, LiveSafe suddenly needs to send out tens or even hundreds of thousands of communications in an instant. When that happens, they leverage Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) to spin up new machines to deliver those messages as quickly as possible.
  • Low Cost: Paying only for what they use,  they can add, configure, and remove services at any time as needs change, making the cloud the right choice.

“For us, AWS has been an amazing platform as we have grown. We started with only a small subset of services. As we have grown in size and complexity, it has been very easy to leverage other services offered by the AWS platform to extend our offerings. We are also able to leverage resources for doing stress testing on demand or prototyping that we would not have had machines to use in a traditional self-hosted environment,” Matt said.

Whether you are creating a brand new mobile app or adding features to your existing app, AWS Mobile Hub lets you leverage the features, scalability, reliability, and low cost of AWS in minutes.

AWS can help you get started building mobile apps quickly, driving your mission forward in this mobile-first world and have more time to focus on things that make your app great.

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