From Uber to SAUV Life

After 7.5 years at Uber, my next challenge is called SAUV Life.

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In August 2010, I received an email from Ryan Graves, the Uber CEO at the time, announcing the team had decided to give me a chance as their third engineer. At the time, Uber — or UberCab, to be more accurate — only had two iOS apps: one for riders and one for partners. Having experience on that still quite recent mobile platform backed by Google, my first task consisted of implementing Uber’s first Android rider app, inspired by the features available on the existing iOS counterpart. At the time, I had no idea it was the beginning of an extraordinary adventure. From 2010 to 2018, from 5 employees to more than 10,000, from one initial city to hundreds, I’ve seen a lot, to say the least. I was part of many mobile app rewrites and helped on several short scale “quick-win” projects, as well as on larger scale, more strategic, system designs. I’ve had inspiring managers and crossed paths with incredibly talented, kind, and humble people, some of whom I consider close friends. I will be eternally grateful for the opportunities I was given.

During my last year at Uber, I had been given the chance to contribute to SAUV Life, a non-profit initiative in collaboration with Uber France. Doctor Lionel Lamhaut, President of SAUV Life, reached out to Uber in 2017 hoping to find help from a logistics expert. Done deal, Uber accepted to help by sponsoring the project and assigning 3 employees, including me, who acted as consultants on the project. Due to my technical background, I helped on project management and mobile apps development. After leaving Uber in March 2018, it became quite obvious to me that I wanted to pursue the SAUV Life adventure.

What problem is SAUV Life trying to solve? Today, in France, if you are struck by a cardiac arrest, you have a 4% chance of survival. Each minute spent without a cardiac massage decreases your chance of survival by 10%. The ambulance takes on average 13 minutes to get to you. Do the math, it looks extremely bad. By leveraging geolocation technologies, SAUV Life aims to greatly increase chances of survival.

Here is how it works. Let’s say you are willing to help (of course you are!), you would download the mobile app, register to the service and, when prompted, accept to always allow access to your current location. This last step is mandatory because it’s at the core of the system. For SAUV Life to determine whether you are around a victim, it needs to know where you are at any moment. Okay, so now you’re all set. Next time someone calls the emergency service (911 in the US, 112 in Europe), if a cardiac arrest is diagnosed, the medical operator will trigger the SAUV Life service by simply entering the location of the victim. This will automatically notify the SAUV Life users who are at most 10 minutes away from the cardiac arrest location. The first one to respond is sent to the victim, the second and third are dispatched to pick up defibrillators on the way, and the fourth one is also sent directly to the victim. The fifth and next will be thanked but their help will not be necessary. The app consists of step-by-step instructions and, in many ways, is inspired by the Uber partner app.

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Different alerting states illustrated on iOS, only available in French at the moment.

The iOS and Android apps have been live in France since mid-March, and we are absolutely thrilled to see our number of users grow week after week. This is just the beginning and we have a lot of work on our plate. Today, the team is composed of 6 people including 1 doctor and 3 engineers, and we are expanding our engineering team. Thus, if you are looking for a great mission to contribute to, shoot us an email at Being a non-profit only relying on generous donations, we do not have the capacity to hire full-time employees, but we welcome freelancers, students looking for an impactful internship, or simply good Samaritans willing to contribute to saving lives.

I don’t know how to do a cardiac massage, can I still join the community?
Yes! Everyday medical operators of the emergency service teach people what to do on the phone. They are trained for it and they are used to people not knowing what to do. Even if you have never done a cardiac massage before, you will be able to help. Also note that you may very well be dispatched to pick up a defibrillator and, for that, no training would have helped.

I don’t feel great about SAUV Life always tracking my location, is there any way around that?
Unfortunately, no. Without the Always Allow level of permission, the app becomes almost useless. Please note that the SAUV Life server only stores your last known location. It does not store all your history of locations for obvious privacy reasons. We only store what we need, nothing more. And we will never sell your information because we’re not business oriented.

I’m okay to have SAUV Life always tracking my location, but won’t that drain my phone battery?
In short, no. This was a very important consideration before starting the development of the project. On iOS, every time you move by more than 500 meters, the app is woken up to send your new location and is killed couple seconds after. On Android, it’s not exactly that but it’s using a similar process. No matter what, we will continue to monitor the battery consumption and do our best to make it as efficient as possible.

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