NEW ORLEANS—He's the gardener with the great idea !
After seeing the oil spill from his home in West Palm Beach, Florida, Scott Lewis who loves nature, decided to tweak telephone technology he created called "Pathfinder"
so cell phones could be used to help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Holding one of the phones in his hand, Lewis demonstrates how it works, "So let's say we saw oil, we'd go down to the 'observed oil' line in the menu, and push the button, they'd want to know where the oil was, so we'd scroll down in the menu and select, "it's on the water." We'd want to know what kind of oil it was, so for example we'd scroll down and push the selection for "tarballs," and we'd want to know the depth of the water so we could tell what kind of skimmer should go out there to get it, so there is a menu for that. For example, if I indicate on the phone menu the oil is in "12 feet of water," a shrimp boat could try and recover it."
The workers out in the Gulf take note of oiled or dead birds, boom that needs to be replaced or oil that needs to be sucked up. The key to completing the program, is to take a picture of the problem in it's precise location.
"The worker saves the picture, submits it, and it takes down the time, date stamp, and geo codes it, with NO cell towers," Lewis says.
The military spec cell phones work off battery and satellite and Lewis's special application.
He is now the "Pathfinder" Task Force Leader for BP.
Lewis used the phones and a similar program he designed, during another disaster just 6 months ago.
"We actually used these in Haiti immediately after the earthquake, so that's how they heard about us in Saint Bernard Parish," he says.
"We ended up in Haiti and the United Nations used some of our data. It's really a very simple system. We trained four local Haitians in thirty minutes just like we train the local fisherman here in Louisiana and we gave them the phones and they road around on mopeds and they went and did 3,287 rapid damage assessments in Haiti, it was amazing."
Lewis was working in devastated country for 45 days. The Haitians he worked with, "did not know how to read and write, yet I taught them how to use this phone. It's a really simple device."
Lewis says there is a lot of satisfaction for the workers here in the Gulf in that "the information they generate creates a work-order for another team, who goes out and fixes all the problems the original workers find. So you are creating jobs by better organizing the effort."
Lewis says he came up with the idea after Hurricane Katrina. He worked in New Orleans in the aftermath of the storm. When he wrapped up his job, he handed his boss an enormous stack of thousands of sheets of paper. The Pathfinder technology he says with a smile, "is designed to totally eliminate paper."
Agilis Systems based in St. Louis, MO developed the software created by Scott Lewis.