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Leveraging crowdsourcing to increase awareness of and access to AEDs

Project status

Pilot/study with results


John Hershey, PhD, MS 

Heather Griffis, PhD 

Shawndra Hill, PhD

Innovation leads


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 


Zoll Medical 

Cardiac Science 

Philips Medical 

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars Program, University of Pennsylvania 

The Medtronic Foundation Heart Rescue Project 

Penn University Research Fund 

McCabe Fund


Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is a major public health problem that affects an estimated 400,000 people in the United States every year. Applying an automated external defibrillator (AED) to patients who have experienced cardiac arrest can save lives. However, little is known about where these devices are located and how to find them. 


In 2012, we launched the MyHeartMap Challenge, a citywide crowdsourcing initiative that aimed to locate and map all AEDs in Philadelphia. Philadelphia served as an ideal setting for the inaugural challenge with an estimated 1.5 million inhabitants and approximately 500,000 daily workers and visitors.  

Participants photographed and geotagged AEDs they found in public places over eight weeks using a free mobile app.  


The challenge engaged more than 300 individuals working independently or as part of a team to map over 1,500 AEDs in 800 unique buildings. 

The data collected during the challenge was used to create MyHeartMap, a digital map of AED locations in Philadelphia. MyHeartMap is the first iteration of what our team hopes will grow to become a nationwide, crowdsourced AED registry that will put these lifesaving devices in the hands of anyone, anywhere, anytime.