Believe it or not, there are many ways your mobile smart phone could be used when you find yourself in the middle of an emergency situation, aside from the obvious -- making a phone call for emergency assistance, I mean.
The recent events in Japan and New Zealand have shown that when disaster strikes, getting the most accurate information is likely the best way to make choices that could save your life.
Provided the event hasn't taken out the local mobile network, your mobile phone's browser will help, linking you with many local, national, and international news services, as well as many different channels of communication (email, voice chat, twitter, etc).
But there are other ways your smart phone can help. For example, many smart phone's display screens are bright enough to be used as a makeshift flashlight when the power goes out. Color Flashlight is a leading Android app and Flashlight 4 is one of the most popular ones in Japan right now.
As well, most phones these days know where they are in the world, either by triangulating between communications towers, wifi sources, or built-in GPS systems. Tie this in with any of the popular mapping applications and you have a good visual understanding of where you are. Helpful when you have to find an alternate route or transportation system in an unfamiliar city.
An app for that? You bet!
As you can imagine, there are many things that you could need in an emergency. And, of course, there are some apps that can help.
During the Tsunami warnings following the Japan earthquake, information like that provided by this Hawaiian-developed Disaster Alert app helped keep islanders informed about the impending waves.
And after an event, finding people and shelter is a priority.
Google launched their Google Person Finder during the Christchurch earthquake, and updated it for the Japan event.
And the American Red Cross has released their free Shelter View app.
So as you can see, with just a few bookmarks, perhaps an hour of app-store browsing, and a few dollars investment, you can have a pretty good emergency preparedness kit all tucked neatly into your mobile data phone.
I think it's time I started on mine, what have I missed that I should add?
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