Techie’s tool serves up safety solutions

Techie’s tool serves up safety solutions

A member of Metamedia Technology’s Longdo map team created a utensil to aid evacuation during a crisis, writes Suchit Leesa-nguansuk

Mr Nitikorn's website shows the evacuation area within a 5km radius of the site of the explosion.
Mr Nitikorn’s website shows the evacuation area within a 5km radius of the site of the explosion.

A huge explosion at a factory that produces plastic foam and pellets in Samut Prakan early on the morning of July 5 sent locals into a panic, as many of them did not know what to do or where to evacuate to during the emergency.

The blast at the fire-gutted Ming Dih Chemical Co factory in Bang Phli district prompted the evacuation of people living within a five-kilometre radius of the site.

A digitally inclined 26-year-old man who followed the situation closely believes he is able to help people in such a situation to figure out whether or not they are in a safe zone.

Nitikorn Bunyakulcharoen, a sales engineer and member of the Longdo map team at software firm Metamedia Technology, thinks locals should know whether they are in a safe location, so he began coding a map system that lets users know which areas require evacuation.

Mr Nitikorn, who graduated from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi with a degree in computer engineering, is responsible for creating, an evacuation checking website, which has attracted up to 3 million visitors.

“I saw a problem as people had no idea how far their residence was from the explosion,” he said.

“I spent two hours writing code through the Longdo Map API, creating more than 100 coding sentences. The map can show users’ locations and the zones that require evacuation.”

The map demonstrates how digital technology can help people during times of crisis.

For Mr Nitikorn, the event taught him a simple approach could have a broad impact on the public and help people in need during a crisis.

He is considering creating a mapping tool for those affected by the explosion so they can receive compensation.

Mr Nitikorn said further efforts could be made to create a map that shows the locations of factories that store dangerous chemicals, which could be useful for city planning.

Open data across state agencies is critical for data transparency, a concept being pushed by the Digital Government Development Agency.

Mr Nitikorn developed a website that allows locals to check whether they are located in areas that need to be evacuated following the factory explosion in Samut Prakan’s Bang Phli district.

Data could be added to a map system for a variety of purposes, he said.

Mr Nitikorn hopes the government will support local tech firms working to solve the problems of Thais rather than relying on foreign tech companies.

“The country needs to have the capability to deal with its problems, rather than relying on help from foreign tech firms,” he said.

Another goal for Mr Nitikorn is for society to realise the value of science and technology, which could start with the media paying more attention to young people winning science and technology competitions, he said.

IT students need to engage in a process of continual learning, picking up a variety of skills, even those as diverse as sports and music, in order to blend them together to for a solid foundation, said Mr Nitikorn.

He said he loves serving as an event anchor and he uses his communication skills to explain IT features to the public.

“I respect diversity in society,” said Mr Nitikorn.

“The new generation should be able to work in whatever field they love, whatever their skills or occupation, whether people want freelance or full-time jobs, to run a startup or tech firm, or an entertainment business.”

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