Pupils show app-titude to help the homeless

Three Rendcomb College students invent app to help aid organisations track homeless and vulnerable

Three students from Rendcomb College in Gloucestershire have been selected as finalists in the national Longitude Explorer Prize for their mobile app idea, which enables aid organisations to map the whereabouts and support vulnerable people across the globe including migrants and the homeless.

The team, made up of GCSE pupils Grace Balchin, Emily Sharman and Eleni Dimopoulos, have beaten off more than 600 applicants to make it through to the final twelve with their prototype app. The winning school will be awarded £25,000 plus individual prizes for participants; there are also two £5,000 runner up prizes. The winners will be announced in December.

The three students with their app

Pupil Grace Balchin said: “Our app will be able to track the locations of vulnerable people, providing real-time data to humanitarian aid organisations enabling them to be more strategic when they deploy their services. We came up with the idea because we wanted to be able to help the growing number of homeless people in Gloucestershire but also tackle the issue and its clear impact worldwide.”

Launched by UK innovation charity Nesta, the Longitude Explorer Prize is a youth-focused challenge for secondary school pupils aged 11-16 which aims to provide an opportunity for young people to expand their abilities in digital creativity by coming up with innovative solutions to social challenges.

The rigorous selection process has seen the students pitch their idea to the judging panel, which includes representatives from the National Space Centre, British Science Association and the UK Space Agency.

Director of IT at Rendcomb College, Jonathan Torbitt, said: “I am extremely proud of the commitment, resourcefulness and maturity that the team has shown. They have excelled in every aspect of the process and overwhelmingly impressed every judge and organiser that they have met. One of the judges even stepped in an offered to help mentor them as he liked the idea so much.”

Jonathan continued: “We are now investigating meeting with large businesses to determine whether the team could receive investment and technical support from a company familiar with technology start-ups.”