Silicon Valley nonprofit About the Kids Foundation creates apps for the worst of times

It’s a horrible way for business to go good. But Joseph Ekman finds that when disaster strikes, people turn to his nonprofit’s app aimed at giving emergency responders your quick medical history.

On Dec. 14, Ekman’s Ice Standard — Emergency Standard Card app was No. 133 on the Apple Apps Store list of free apps.  That was the day, you’ll recall, that Adam Lanza entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. with a high-capacity assault rifle and gunned down 20 students and six teachers.

The attack set off tears, calls for sensible gun control and a rush for items of safety.  By Dec. 18, the app, which is offered by the Silicon Valley-based About the Kids Foundation, shot up to No. 70 on the list. Ten days later, two weeks after the massacre, it hit No. 49. It’s still hovering well above its pre-Newtown levels.

“All this is word of mouth,” Ekman says. “We don’t advertise.”

The app allows you to keep important medical notes on your iPhone or other iOS device — medications, blood types, medical contacts, insurance information, chronic conditions and the like.

It’s accompanied by a real-world card that contains similar information, should your phone be damaged, lost or out of power.

I asked Eckman about the bittersweet fact that his effort tends to get attention only when bad things happen to good people.

“I’ve always been that way,” he says. “You turn a negative into a positive.”

Next up from About the Kids: A GPS-based app aimed at helping parents keep track of their kids’ locations.

“Even if your kids are great and they’re on their way to school, and you tell them to call you and they don’t call you, you have a place to start following them,” he says.

The idea is to help in cases where kids are lost or abducted, but what you use it for is up to you.

Photo by the Associated Press

 

Mike Cassidy Mike Cassidy (173 Posts)

I write about the culture of Silicon Valley for the San Jose Mercury News.