Engineering for the Worst Case Scenario: FallSafety Builds Man Down Alerts with Twilio Notify


You don’t typically find “140 pound MMA dummy” on the list of dependencies required to build notifications for an iOS or Android app. But the dummy is critical to the engineers at FallSafety. He’s not as pliable or easily maneuverable as code in a text editor, but he represents the final function of the engineers’ code.

To know whether FallSafety’s code works properly, the dummy has to take a fall. Well, a lot of falls. It’s all in the name of saving actual humans from actual falls on a job site.

When a worker falls, someone needs to know immediately. Response time matters.  The FallSafety app leverages the accelerometer in a worker’s phone to determine when a fall has occurred, and sends out notifications to the worker’s emergency contacts using Twilio Notify.

Getting the worker’s emergency contacts to respond promptly is mission critical to FallSafety. One emergency contact might miss a phone call, but immediately respond to a text or push notification. This makes users’ notification channel preferences less like a garnish on top of the app, and more like the main course.

“The last thing you want to think about is ‘will it be delivered?’,” says Philip Carmichael, CEO and Founder of FallSafety. That question was definitely on the mind of FallSafety engineers before trying out Twilio Notify.

Building Their Way Out of A Notification Black Hole

“It was like a black hole” says Travis Okahara, Software Engineer, describing a few providers they tried to use to send out multi-channel alerts. “It should be fire and forget, but in this case it was fire and get frustrated. We could see the notifications were received by the server, but we had no idea why they weren’t getting to the device.”

The FallSafety team wanted out of the black hole. They signed up for Twilio Notify just a few weeks after it launched. While Notify is now in Public Beta for everyone to use, FallSafety is glad they started using Twilio Notify from the get go. It enables them to send multi-channel notifications instantaneously, all from one platform, instead of bouncing around from different messaging channels one by one.

Having one centralized place to manage iOS and Android push notifications, as well as SMS and voice allows FallSafety to focus on enhancing their product and expanding it internationally.  They serve a number of industries including construction, energy, home maintenance, manufacturing, military and agriculture in the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia and around the world.

A critical part of improving their app is gathering more data about falls. In the unfortunate event a worker falls, FallSafety uses that data to log metrics about the environment the fall took place in, the response time, the type of notification that was sent and more. Their ultimate goal is a smarter solution that supports prevention as much as it improves response.

FallSafety hopes that human falls are few and far between, so it sounds like the MMA dummy has a few more falls in its future.