Microsoft's BizSpark helping startups like Resgrid reach their goals

Trustworthy Cloud Logistics For First Responders – Resgrid


Developer by day, volunteer firefighter by night . . . Shawn Jackson likes making a difference in the world. Now, as founder of BizSpark startup Resgrid, he is helping speed up disaster emergency responses in a bid to keep people safer around the globe.
When a call crackles across a fire emergency response system, first responders rush to their station, grab their gear and get to the scene as quickly as possible. As they drive, though, it’s tough for everyone to know who else is responding or what their own role will be.
“It’s hard to put together the best crew for the situation without knowing who is responding from where and what level each person can operate at,” says Jackson. “Am I going to be the guy kicking in the door or driving the truck?”
The developer side of Jackson’s brain started swirling with ideas to resolve the communications issue. He came up with the concept of Resgrid, a cloud/app combination that first responders can use from their mobile devices to coordinate logistics and resource management. Smartphones and tablets, he reasoned, were owned by nearly every first responder – why not create a universal product for mobile networks that can receive text messages?
He enlisted help from another developer he knew well – Jason Jarret – and, together, they chose to build out the idea using Microsoft technologies – particularly Microsoft Azure – as the foundation. The Microsoft BizSpark program gave them free access to lots of Microsoft software, including Azure.
“Every country has first responder needs and at varying levels of sophistication,” says Jackson. “With Azure we can coordinate all the information we need to help any first responder – anywhere – track operations and even obtain turn-by-turn directions to get to the emergency scene.”
Resgrid uses the cloud platform to deploy its entire product, from the company website to its backend API and everything in between, says Jarret, in large part because it seamlessly connects with any open source software (OSS) package Resgrid uses.
“Our system was designed to work with Azure from the onset,” says Jarrett, co-founder, “because it allows us to leverage all the capabilities of the platform. For example, we use Cloud Services for both Web and Worker roles to help us identify patterns and reoccurrences. Our backend is Azure SQL Database. That gives us SQL as a service that we do not have to manage or failover.”
Azure SQL Database uses a special version of Microsoft SQL Server as its backend. It provides high availability by managing many databases, storing multiple copies of databases, elastic scale and rapid provisioning.
Resgrid’s use of OSS packages in conjunction with Azure is substantial. MongoDB, for example, lets Resgrid integrate real-time analytics into its Azure operational databases. The startup also uses TeamCity CI – a Java-based platform – as a build server and runs it on an Azure virtual machine. AngularJS and Bootstrap, open source web application frameworks, are being used with Azure Websites (a fully-managed Platform as a Service) for the startup’s web site. StackExchange.Redis lets Resgrid connect to the Azure Redis Cache through a .NET API, allowing the startup to create and configure a cache, add or remove objects from it and configure cache clients.
Other, smaller OSS packages include Moment.js, which lets Resgrid display times and dates on its Azure-based dashboard, and jQuery, a cross-browser JavaScript library that simplifies client-side scripting of HTML. For instance, coding with jQuery lets Resgrid quickly add special effects to its web site and pull data from a server-side database.

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