Zbyněk Poulíček from BUT was searching for a topic for his thesis. Originally he intended to programme mapping software for use in tourism, but then, together with his friends Boris Procházka and Petra (Bačíková) Černá, he saw footage from Haiti.
It was 2010 and the Caribbean country had suffered a devastating earthquake. Reporters discovered people alive in the rubble, but there was nobody to help them. At that moment everything became clear – the new software GINA (Geographical Information Assistant) would assist emergency and security agencies.
No victory, but praised by Bill Gates
The original software was reworked as a map application allowing navigation and communication between teams in the field. On a single map they can see their current location and get information about traffic flow, thus helping shorten journey time. These valuable minutes can decide people’s lives.
The team of friends from BUT entered their project into the Imagine Cup competition, organised by Microsoft. Its aim is to motivate students, with the help of modern technology, to come up with practical solutions to global problems.
The GINA technology won the national round. In the international round it did not get through to the final stages, but it intrigued the BBC and was glowingly mentioned by Bill Gates. The humanitarian organisation Hands for Help then used it in practice for dealing with the consequences of the earthquake in Haiti.
GINA helps the South Moravian emergency services and scientists
Today the system is used not only by the emergency services, but also by naturalists mapping the incidence of rare species. In the South Moravia region it has become part of the integrated rescue system and helps fire fighters and the rescue services coordinate their joint actions.
The trio of founders were helped in the beginning by the JIC STARCUBE accelerator. Since the time of the annual programme, the student project has become the successful company GINA Software. The entrepreneurs have stayed in the JIC and continued cooperation with experts who have advised them on questions of development and expansion into foreign markets.
GINA returns to Haiti. This time, with the UN
Although it has been on the market for only a few years, GINA has won a tender from the United Nations (UN). From 2015 members of the UNDP (the United Nations Development Programme) agency began to use the system in Haiti. Using portable hardware such as a tablet and GINA software interlinks responding units and locates people and vehicles in the field.