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Cyber Forensics Research and Education Group Develops Resource to Provide Real-Time Information During COVID-19 Pandemic
Under the direction of Ibrahim Baggili, Ph.D., a team of students has been working day and night to develop a website and app that provides information to the public about everything from local COVID-19 cases to store inventories of essential items.
April 10, 2020
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Krikor Herlopian ’21 M.S. is working as a mobile developer on a project with several of his classmates, and he’s hoping their efforts will make a meaningful difference during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
He is one of four University of New Haven students developing PandeMICs, a resource that endeavors to help people around the world support each other and get up-to-the-moment information during the coronavirus global pandemic.
“It has been a rewarding experience to be involved in this challenging, thought-provoking, and creative project,” said Herlopian, a candidate in the University’s graduate program in computer science. “Not only have I gained academic and technical experience, but I also learned how to use my knowledge and expertise to serve the community and society.”
Herlopian and his classmates are working under the direction of Ibrahim Baggili, Ph.D., assistant dean of the University’s Tagliatela College of Engineering and Elder Family Chair to develop the website and application, which features the latest statistics from vetted government agencies and crowd-sourced information.
The site also includes a tool that enables users to locate in-demand supplies such as toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and diapers. It will soon feature information about crucial resources such as food bank and shelter locations.
“For many people, this is the first time in their lives they are struggling to get the things they need from the stores,” said TJ Balon ’18 ’21 M.S., a candidate in the University’s graduate program in computer science, who has been helping to plan new features for the resource, coordinate release dates, and ensure consistent project flow. “I hope PandeMICs will help in these challenging times. If it helps even one person, we’ve been successful in making a positive impact.”
The students are part of the University’s Cyber Forensics Research and Education Group, of which Dr. Baggili is executive director and founder. Dr. Baggili said the students noticed that the data available to the public were not being updated in real time, and they wanted to change that. They also wanted to let people know if an item they needed was in stock locally to keep people from going to stores unnecessarily.
“The students have been great, and they’ve spent sleepless nights working on this project,” said Baggili. “We realized this was our way of giving back during these trying times. We can help the world with code, and we have the tenacity to create something usable for people globally.”
The team plans to release two mobile applications – one for Android devices and one for iOS systems – so that users can access PandeMICs on their phones.
“We did not want to just create a dashboard, we wanted to create something useful for people,” said Dr. Baggili. “We also realized that people have to keep checking the existing trackers to learn what is happening, so we decided to add a notification feature to ours that can automatically email people about COVID-19 cases in their area.”
As they continue to develop PandeMICs, the team is seeking feedback and suggestions. The site is now being beta tested by members of the University community, and a similar field test by University alumni will follow.
For Ali Azlan ’21, a candidate in the University’s graduate program in computer science and the lead web application developer, working on PandeMICs has been a meaningful way to help others during this time of uncertainty.
“It gives me a sense of purpose and motivation during this difficult time,” he said. “It is our hope that it will help decrease the level of panic.”
“Because of this project and the opportunity to work closely with Dr. Baggili and the students, I will be pursuing a master's degree in cybersecurity at the University of New Haven and applying for the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service,” added Ryan Kelley, a senior at Texas Tech majoring in math and computer science who has been helping with data aggregation. “Working with this team has been an enjoyable experience, and it has been unlike any other experiences I have had in academia.”
Ultimately, their goal is to launch this resource to the general public soon. They are also integrating state and county data in the upcoming release.
“I hope this helps people to better understand the current situation and that it encourages people to follow social distancing recommendations,” said Samuel Zurowski ’21, a computer science major. “I also hope it will help people to easily find the information and items they need.”
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