What started as a 10-year-old’s dream to end violence on school grounds has led to the development of a smartphone app called Qwick Response, which is in the testing stages for Apple and Android phones.
The app, developed by Belle Isle Enterprise School sixth-grader Genesis Franks, is a notification system for many situations in the school, from bullying to a shooting on campus. Genesis said she was motivated to make the app after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
She won first place and the grand prize for the idea at last year’s Oklahoma Student Inventors Exposition, but she and her father, Leonard, had a dream to make the app accessible to the world.
After a year of researching, seeking funding and finding the right people to help, Genesis and Leonard Franks have created an app they say will empower people to become better first-responders in any scenario, whether emergency or non-emergency.
Franks asked Al Posadas, a software developer with Expresso Web, for help with the app. Posadas put Franks in contact with Greg Kieson and Jay Watson, of the Moore-Norman Technology Center, who became consultants and mentors to Franks and Posadas.
Kieson said he worked with them on strategic planning, developing a business plan, marketing the product and finding finances.
“I just like working with passionate entrepreneurs who have great ideas,” Kieson said. “I smile when I say that because Leonard is very aggressive.
“Every moment with Leonard, in terms of planning, really is a high point because we continue to develop the model and work together on strategies.”
Franks and Posadas are working with Millwood Public Schools staff members to do beta testing to help work out any kinks with the app.
Athletic and Information Technology Director Shannon Hayes thinks the app will help keep them connected with parents, staff and students.
“Being at a sporting event and having a situation maybe with thunderstorms or even a possible shooting, being able to communicate with all my administration and staff and coaches to where they can be able to do certain things is good,” Hayes said. “I’m really kind of excited about it, and I think it is a wonderful app.”
While describing how the app works, Franks used the example of the Arapahoe High School shooting in Denver in December, where a janitor saw Karl Pierson walk into the school with suspicious items, which were the items used in the attack.
“If the witness would have had the Qwick Response app, he could have pushed the alert that includes his exact location, which would then send a notification to everyone on those school grounds and the local precinct.
“Everyone would be trained to go into lockdown mode, and the campus security and police could immediately find Pierson,” Franks said.
The app comes with many different modes to choose from, including superintendent, principal, assistant principal, staff, student and parent.
Franks and Posadas are developing an athletic director and substitute teacher mode, as well.
The difference between Qwick Response and apps already on the market is that Qwick Response sends “push notifications as opposed to texts,” Posadas said.
Push notifications are sent through the smartphone carrier, whereas texts are sent to the distinct phone numbers, making notifications the fastest communication method available.
“Everyone who has the app is empowered to be a better first responder and have the 911 capability in their hands,” Franks said.
“The app does not replace 911; it gives you the power of 911 in your hands and more.”
Franks addressed the issue of false alarms saying that each industry will have a database of each phone that has the app downloaded onto it.
“Administrators will be able to track whose phone the false alarm came from,” Franks said.
Because this is the beginning of this app, they have only bounced around the idea of costs, but they have considered selling it to individual school districts.
“We want to make this thing very affordable for every school in the United States,” Franks said.