At this year’s Coolest Projects 14-year-old Jake O’Toole, is getting a lot of media attention. He has developed a personal safety app that shares your location with trusted contacts to let them know where you are if you are feeling unsafe. We had a quick chat with Jake about his app and also Coder Dojo.

What is the name of your app?
The app I’m developing this year is called PinPoint

What is the purpose of the app?
PinPoint is an app that at the touch of a button, shares your location with trusted contacts to let them know where you are if you are feeling unsafe. You can also hail a taxi to pick you up and drop you off at your desired location.

Where did the idea for the app come from?
It came from my own personal experience with walking home alone in the dark. Where I live there is street lighting in most parts but there are a lot of places that don’t. It would make me feel much safer knowing that a person is able to see where I’m going if I’m feeling unsafe.

What was the biggest challenge developing the app?
So far the app is a working progress and I haven’t ran into any challenges just yet.

What is the most enjoyable part of developing apps?
The thing I love most about developing apps is the outcome. To think “Wow! I made that myself” is such a good feeling knowing all the work I’ve put into it has payed off.

Where are your expectations/hopes for the app? (number of downloads, positive impact on society ??)
I’d love this app to become popular and overall, make people feel safe when walking at night time or even just walking and not feeling safe.

Have you made any other apps?
My first app was called Gaeilge Made Easy which was an app to help primary school kids with Irish. I personally found at this time that Irish was a very tricky subject and my classmates and I found very boring. I developed the app to help change that. I developed this when I was 11 years old. The app I created last year was a social networking app called BUZZ. As my app development progressed, the biggest challenge creating this app was having to learn the newly available Swift language. Due to the lack of knowledge out there on this language, It was incomplete for the Coolest Project Awards last year.

How long have you been at CoderDojo?
I started in CoderDojo in the Science Gallery in Trinity College and I was there for little less than a year, then I started at CoderDojo in DCU.

How would you describe the impact CoderDojo has had on you?
CoderDojo has had a massive impact on my life. I’ve known since I first walked into Trinity College CoderDojo at 10 years old, that this was much more than just a hobby for me, It’s a huge part of my life. I’ve learned so much from CoderDojo from learning very interesting languages, being part of presentations representing CoderDojo to attending a number of tech events such as the Web Summit, visiting Twitter’s EU Headquarters in Dublin, speaking at DojoCon about the Swift Language, and a number of similar tech facilities. I’ve travelled around Ireland to attend these events meeting very interesting people.

What’s the best thing about attending coderdojo now that you are a mentor?
My favourite part of being a mentor at CoderDojo is seeing the joy on the kids faces when they see what code can really do. These kids are the next generation of tech CEO’s. The best part of CoderDojo from a ninja’s point of view is learning and creating amazing projects and showcasing them at the annual CoderDojo Coolest Projects Awards.

Jake will also be appearing in an Irish Tech News Coolest Projects podcast.


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