by Daniel Masoliver
In a run of the mill, every day emergency, there’s a pretty obvious way in which your mobile can get you out of trouble: It’s a phone – just call 999 (or your local equivalent).
But following disasters such as the recent earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan, mobile devices have been used in far more creative ways to help save lives. And last week, technology blogger Brad Grier explained how:
- As long as the disaster hasn’t affected the mobile network, smartphones can be used to connect to the internet. Access to news sites, emails and Twitter among other things – basically just staying informed – can help keep you from danger.
- Grier describes how you can use your smartphone’s GPS capabilities to map your way out of a disaster-hit area. But GPS could save your life in another way, too. If you were unlucky enough to be trapped in a building following an earthquake (but lucky enough to have a fully functioning smartphone to hand), you could use location-based apps like FourSquare to broadcast your location to the world and alert people to your whereabouts.
- Saving lives? There’s an app for that: The American Red Cross has developed a Shelter View app which allows you to see when and where shelters have been set up following a disaster. And the Pacific Disaster Centre has released an app which maps out where natural hazards are occurring around the world.
Tweet for your life
In September 2010, Japanese journalist Kosuke Tsuneoka was released after having been held captive in Afghanistan for five months.
Tsuneoka’s captors demanded that he teach them how to use a Nokia N70 phone that they had in their possession. He did so, and while demonstrating the values of Twitter, managed to sneak off a couple of tweets from his own account.
Now, it seems likely that his release was due to the fact that he was a practising Muslim, and not because of his use of Twitter. But at least he managed to let the world know that he was still alive.
So next time you find yourself in a perilous situation, tweet it.
To find out more about any of the stories mentioned above, click here.