This Teen Invented Calor, An App That Aims to Keep Farmworkers Safe in Hot Weather

Lead Photo: Mexican farm workers hoe a cabbage field. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
Mexican farm workers hoe a cabbage field. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
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Her grandmother died working in the fields. With farmworkers picking fruits and vegetables in extreme temperatures, heat exhaustion and heatstroke is a very real possibility. Faith Florez’s grandmother died of heat exhaustion, and now the teenager is working to keep this community safe with her app, Calor.

Farmworkers play an invaluable (and often unappreciated) role in this country’s food industry. They’re also subjected to grueling conditions, including working in temperatures that can hit triple digits. As the daughter and granddaughter of farmworkers, Faith is aware of how taxing this job is to the largely immigrant workforce. “I don’t want to hear about a farmworker that died because they were too far away from water and shade,” Florez told 23ABC.

That’s why she launched Calor, an app that tells farmworkers when their health is at risk. Though she knew what she wanted to accomplish with Calor, it took some time to bring it to fruition. She first submitted her idea to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, where graduate students decided to take on the project. But there were many lingering questions. “Where are we going to get the weather data from, how are we going to sponsor the GPS tracking, how are we going to make this a hotline?” Florez recalled.

And though the group behind Calor first hoped to make the app accessible through smartphones, it changed plans because some employers do not allow phones on the fields. That’s how they landed on Apple Watch – something that is cost prohibitive to many of the farmworkers. But by reaching out to farms, they got some employers to agree to foot the bill for the piece of technology. Florez has additionally raised more than $60,000 to go toward the development of the software. The project received the attention of celebrities like Eva Longoria, Gina Rodriguez, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Faith hopes to work with more farms in the future so that Calor can hep more farmworkers in the future.

Check out Bese’s recent video profile on Faith below.