Beacon: 911 where there is none

Beacon provides SMS-based emergency dispatching for communities in developing countries where "911" technologies aren't affordable
Jason Friesen
New York
United States
6 Team Members

Campaign Perks

By supporting us, you get a three-for-one deal:

  • you provide emergency response and communications training for the local population
  • you help us cover software testing costs
  • you get a special perk from us to help spread the word!


911 Where There Is None

What would you do if you got into a car wreck and needed to go to the hospital? If you can answer, "I'd call 911", then you're pretty fortunate. Across most of the developing world, this is not possible.

Can you imagine?

We believe things can change: there are plenty of Good Samaritans willing to help, most communities have some form of transportation, and mobile phones are virtually everywhere.

With this in mind, our all-volunteer team of paramedics, doctors, and software programmers have developed BEACON, an inexpensive SMS-based emergency dispatching software for communities that can't afford 911 dispatching. With your help, BEACON will ensure that victims of medical emergencies in poor and marginalized communities will finally be able to access coordinated emergency medical response – when and where it’s needed.


Why We Need Your Help

We recently finished our first stage of field-testing outside the U.S., and we need your help to expand testing and optimize the software's performance so that it can meet the highest quality standards. We're really doing something completely new for global health: Beacon isn't so much a mobile 'app' as it is a public utility, so robust testing is extremely important.

For nearly three years, Beacon has been developed by a growing group of committed volunteers who've spent thousands of their own hours and dollars to keep this going. We're at the point where we now need to leave the proverbial garage and get out into the field permanently, but we can't do it without additional support.

Because we already have a functioning prototype - made possible through generous support from top-level developers at Vision Point Systems - we can guarantee that all donations will go directly to field-testing and software optimization. With $75,000 we’ll be able to conduct extensive testing and development in three locations by January 2014. Every additional $25,000 will help us expand to a new location.

By supporting us, you will be playing a key role in something very meaningful, helping less-privileged communities build solutions to better manage the chaos during those most dreaded moments: something as simple as dialing 911.

Our objectives are simple in the communities we serve: no more pedestrians suffering needlessly by the roadside, no more women forced to give birth on a dirt floor, and no more waiting for help that will never arrive.

Help support a new way to be a Good Samaritan today.

Support Beacon.

Every dollar counts.

Other Ways You Can Help

While we hope our mission and our rewards are enough to inspire you to donate, we know that not everyone can spare the cash. If this description fits you, we can always use help spreading the work, so here's how else you can help:

  • Ask folks to get the word out and make some noise about Beacon and Trek Medics through social media, email, or best of all, in person
  • Inquire with your employer about matching contributions for tax-exempt organizations (we're 501(c)(3)-registered)
  • Contact local media outlets and other online news and blog sites
  • Remind them to use the Indiegogo share tools!
  • Send us an email at beacon[at]

And that’s all there is to it.

To learn more about Beacon, you can read our white paper, or you can visit our website at to learn more about the work we've already begun.

Trek Medics International is a 501(c)(3)-registered non-profit organization dedicated to improving emergency medical systems in developing countries.

How It Works

Because of the exorbitant costs associated with ambulances and other emergency response technologies, it doesn’t take long to see how such solutions are out of reach for many communities with very limited resources. So instead of trying to “square the circle”, we set out to develop a dispatching software that could leverage existing resources and the systems already in use; something that would effectively crowd-source Good Samaritans. Here’s a basic example of Beacon at work:

Beacon Flowchart-Single

  1. Someone is involved in a terrible motor vehicle collision
  2. A witness sends an SMS to an Beacon server
  3. The server relays the SMS to all trained responders in the vicinity, including taxi and commercial drivers, civil service workers, and youth organizations, among others*
  4. Available responders are triaged by Beacon and the closest are sent to locate patients and provide care 
  5. Responders provide safe emergency transport to hospitals
  6. Once patients are transferred to the receiving facility, responders become available again

*Very often these are the people that are already transporting the sick and injured, and would be trained in basic emergency care prior to participation

Why Beacon?

A major obstacle for emergency dispatching systems in impoverished communities is cost: conventional 911 systems are extraordinarily expensive. At the same time, the basic components of such a system - like mobile phones, transport vehicles, and Good Samaritans willing to help – are readily available. Despite this fact, victims with life-threatening injuries and illness still find themselveswithout a reliable way to call for help whenever they need it.Until now. 

Beacon allows patients with acute medical conditions to be directly connected to trained emergency responders using basic SMS, anywhere there’s a mobile phone signal, and has been designed specifically for communities that cannot afford conventional 911 dispatching services.

Grassroots dispatch

In many communities, emergency response efforts are often prompted through simple “phone-trees” that rely on word-of-mouth and person-to-person phone calls. Though margainally effective, this 'linear' dispatching can be cut off by something as simple as running out of minutes. Beacon turns those phone trees into coordinated blasts, ensuring that all first responders are only a text message away from the scene of a medical emergency. Using our own multi-casualty incident algorithms, Beacon is able to dispatch the closest appropriate resources and also request for more, all without relying on advanced, foreign technologies and equipment – it simply strengthens what already exists.

View other videos and materials here:

Find This Campaign On
raised by 256 people in 1 month
55% funded
No time left
Verified Nonprofit
$75,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on October 11, 2013
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Select a Perk
  • $1USD

    Show the world your support for our cause! A sincere thank you on social media from us, project updates, and the latest news, and you can tell your friends you contributed to this exciting project.

    12 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $25USD

    Sponsors enough SMS for a full day of BEACON testing. You will receive 5 Trek Medics decal logos, as well as project updates, and a thanks on our website - send us your badge, too, if you have one!

    19 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $25USD
    Commemorative Challenge Coin

    Included by popular demand! $25 sponsors training for 5 first responders and gets you this original Commemorative Challenge Coin!

    23 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $25USD

    $25 puts 5 more trained responders on the roads and also gives you the chance to read about the action on ambulances across the world in this brilliant book, "Paramédico: Around the world by ambulance," by Australian paramedic, Benjamin Gilmour.

    13 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $50USD

    Sponsors one day of BEACON training for 5 emergency responders. You'll get an official Trek Medics t-shirt with an original design by our friend and artist, Rex Kalehoff, plus 5 decals. (Shipping OUTSIDE of the USA, CAN or UK, please add $15). Scroll down to see pattern.

    46 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $65USD

    In addition to sponsoring one day of training for 10 emergency responders, you'll get the t-shirt, 5 decals, and a copy of Benjamin Gilmour's thrilling book, "Paramédico: Around the world by ambulance." (Shipping OUTSIDE of the USA, CAN or UK, please add $15)

    14 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $125USD

    A full 5 days of first responder training booked, and we thank you with a Vineyard Vines silk tie specially designed by Rex Kalehoff. Whether you're out on the high seas tying down a sail, or on the rocks slinging a broken arm, this cravat's for you! (Shipping OUTSIDE of the USA, CAN or UK, please add $15). Scroll down to see tie sample.

    19 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $200USD

    For helping provide SMS for a week of testing, this reward gets you a Vineyard Vines canvas tote that can carry whatever the kids need, with plenty of room for towels, diapers, or band-aids! (Shipping OUTSIDE of the USA, CAN or UK, please add $15). Scroll down to see tote bag.

    9 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $500USD

    Things can go wrong on a big scale, so emergency preparedness exercises are needed; $500 helps for a full day of large-scale community response exercises. We also send you an engraved plaque to hang on the wall with a photo from the exercises. (Shipping OUTSIDE of the USA, CAN or UK, please add $15)

    1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $2,500USD

    EMS agencies and fire departments can pool together and sponsor a full month of intensive training, plus add their department's insignia on the uniforms of all our trainees - a literal reminder you've got their backs! They'll love it!

    1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $6,000USD

    That's right - we're willing to take a couple of our biggest supporters along, and get involved first-hand in our testing and training with one of our partner programs. (Room, board, flight, and in-country transportation covered. Health insurance not covered.)

    0 out of 3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2013
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