A line to drop off his twin boys at the YMCA, more specifically.
Parents like Burns had to wait in line for 45 minutes to fill out COVID-related paperwork.
“I was handed a clipboard and just said there has to be a better way.”
Within a day Burns built a basic prototype of an app that could streamline the health questionnaire. After talking with and testing the idea with other school districts, he saw several different health and safety-related issues that could be addressed with the proper data management and AI solutions.
Within six months, the Safr app went from idea to deployed in close to 30 different schools across Mississippi and the Southeast, including Burns’ alma mater Jackson State University.
As a HIPAA compliant app, Safr can track COVID symptoms, manage important student data, and analyze potential health risks. Other features include contactless check-in, incident reporting, and automatic alerts.
While the app was born over the summer of 2020, Burns’ background suggests he’s ready to take the entrepreneurial leap.
Born and raised in Mississippi, Burns is a self-described tinkerer. He credits a mentor for steering him towards engineering.
After playing football at Mississippi State, Burns transferred to Jackson State where he received a degree in computer engineering. He worked as a software engineer at American Airlines, JP Morgan Chase, and Verizon Wireless before building Safr.
COVID and Beyond
While the focus remains on how schools can best open and effectively teach students during the ongoing pandemic, Safr has no doubt found product-market fit. But Burns told Hypepotamus that the platform can be leveraged well beyond COVID.
“We don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution.”
By scanning IDs, parents and guardians can check to make sure a kid made it on a specific bus. The team is also working on tracking attendance via facial recognition. Such tools can help teachers and daycare providers focus on a child’s well-being and less on paperwork. Patent-pending infrared camera technology will help users track students’ temperature.
For Burns, Safr has the unique ability to not only streamline health screenings but also to use data to keep kids safe.
“We’re starting to analyze eyes, facial expressions, and voice frequencies of individuals in order for us to determine if a child may be sick or not.” This could help stop the spread of colds and pink eye…and of course, novel coronaviruses.
The team is currently four members, with the app was built in-house by Burns and his Dallas-based development team.