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Teen creates Apple Watch app to prevent farm workers deaths

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After her great-grandmother died because of conditions in the field, a California teen is fighting to reduce the high numbers of heat illness and deaths among farm workers in her beloved Central Valley through an Apple Watch app.

Faith Florez, a 17-year old senior in high school and the granddaughter of farm workers, created the app Calor to help protect farm workers from death and heat illness, by providing them with timely alerts and data.

“I want to prove that technology to protect farm workers in times of excessive heat can be applied as easily as the Amber Alert notifications we already receive, with life-saving data sent straight to their wrists as they toil to put food on our tables,” said Florez. “My mission is to change the statement “work or health” to ‘work AND health.'”

To get the project started, Florez’s original proposal for the farm work heat stress protection app was selected by graduate coding students at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering in 2016. Calor—the first-ever farm worker heat notification web-based application—is the final product of nearly a year of work and intense meetings with farmers, contractors, farm workers, and state regulators.

California farmers and contractors have agreed to provide Apple Watches to farm workers at the beginning of the harvest job, as part of the summer 2018 pilot. In the future, Florez believes farmers will benefit from anticipated reductions in workers compensation insurance rates due to the risk mitigation offered by Calor.

Now Florez is seeking funding to bring the app to the fields via a “Start Some Good” crowdsourced campaign. Initial funds raised will help fund the development costs and to boost the number of farm workers participating in the program. All donations are tax-deductible.

The effort is sponsored by the Latina Legacy Foundation. Early funds for the project were awarded by a Grant from the HERlead Fellowship Program sponsored by partnership between Vital Voices, the preeminent non-governmental organization whose mission is to invest in women leaders who improve the world, and ANN INC., parent company of Ann Taylor, LOFT, and Lou & Grey.

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