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).

f1.jpgBut 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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By Brad Grier

web.tech.photog.comm. geek.hack


  1. Maybe this isn’t so neces­sary with a map pro­gram, but in cer­tain situ­ations, I can see it being help­ful to have a simple com­pass applic­a­tion installed.

  2. Hey Kath­ar­ine, I com­pletely agree! Hav­ing a com­pass as part of your app suite would be a valu­able addition! 

    Anoth­er one that someone men­tioned over at Social Media Today ( http://socialmediatoday.com/bgrier/279158/how-your-mobile-phone-or-tablet-could-save-your-life ) is hav­ing / char­ging your bat­ter­ies. Not really an app, but hav­ing a way to recharge your mobile device is very import­ant when reg­u­lar power can­’t be depended upon.

  3. Oh, that’s an excel­lent point about the bat­ter­ies. I always carry my char­ger in my purse, but I could be up the creek if I wer­en’t near an out­let, or if the power were out and I could­n’t sit in my car and charge it up.

  4. Indeed. There’s some inter­est­ing sol­ar char­gers out there now, as well as some hand-cranked char­gers. They’re likely good for smal­ler devices, but it may take a while in the sun, or a lot of crank­ing to get a full charge đź™‚

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