By Miyako Jones
The City of Flint has been experiencing a lead-in-water crisis for over 27 months due to improperly-treated water flowing through city pipes. It has been necessary for residents to filter their water or obtain access to alternate sources such as bottled water. Unfortunately, locating these resources is sometimes not as simple as it ought to be.
Two Computer Science Honors students, Phil Boyd and John Collins, became involved in an outreach project to help Flint residents locate resources related to the water crisis at the request of Dr. Mark Allison. Phil and John are both members of the UM-Flint chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), which Dr. Allison oversees as faculty advisor. They built an Android app called H2OFlint that assists residents with locating bottled water and water filter pickup locations, recycling locations, and blood testing locations. Icons representing the various types of resources appear on a map of Flint. Tapping an icon lists information about the location such as its name, address, and hours of operation.
The app was designed, developed, and launched in just a few weeks back in February. Both students gained valuable real-world experience and, in the case of Phil, working on the project confirmed his career path as an app developer. John learned “just how important being organized and good coding practices are to a project.”
The water crisis project has since been extended thanks to a $150,000 grant from Google. Phil continues to work on Android development while John intends to create an iOS app.