How your mobile phone or tablet could save your life


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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Brown paper packages tied up with string…

If you fol­low my Twit­ter stream you know that I’m help­ing some friends out with a very cool Social Media pro­ject called Empire Aven­ue.  We’ve got­ten a little bit of press about it lately, most not­ably this art­icle on Mash­able. I’ve not talked about Empire Aven­ue a lot on my blog as I wasn’t really pre­pared — lots of oth­er stuff going on, etc. But now is the time..

In the last few months, I’ve noticed a few things about the Empire Aven­ue world that have really impressed me. Allow me a few moments to wax poet­ic on a few of those things.

In the latest devel­op­ment release, cod­named ‘Cork’, Empire Aven­ue gained Com­munit­ies — places where you can hang your hat and focus your influ­ence devel­op­ment.
For me the key word is Focus. Unlike Face­book or oth­er sites where com­munity par­ti­cip­a­tion has few con­sequences, an Empire Aven­ue Com­munity forces you to focus, because;

  • You are lim­ited in the num­ber of Com­munit­ies you join — which should provide more real value to all mem­bers, unlike oth­er com­munit­ies where you just join-up to express sup­port. An Empire Aven­ue Com­munity with an act­ive group of mem­bers can be an excit­ing place with rel­ev­ant dis­cus­sion and con­tent.
  • Your Influ­en­cer activ­ity and value bene­fits the Com­munity
  • Addi­tion­al dividends are gen­er­ated for the Com­munity based on your activ­ity

I love the new design. The tabbed inter­faces, page zones, and over­all look and feel not only appeal to my designy-side, they are also hugely func­tion­al for me. I can’t wait to see what the design­ers come up with for mobile devices 😉

Blog­ger Posts
Now this is really neat. Over the evol­u­tion of the beta, many par­ti­cip­at­ing Influ­en­cers have cre­ated their own blogs to sup­port their activ­ity. Not simply a blog post, they’ve star­ted up new blogs ded­ic­ated to Empire Aven­ue. Here’s an incom­plete list of what I’ve seen so far.

In the near future, if you’ve got an Empire Aven­ue focused blog, you’ll be able to register it with Empire Aven­ue, and we’ll keep a mas­ter list. It’s not live yet, but we’re wor­kin’ on it.

Devel­op­ment Team

Sure, it’s easy to say ‘These are the best guys I’ve ever worked with’. It’s also easy to say that this whole team is the best team I’ve worked with. Because it’s true. They’re chal­len­ging, enter­tain­ing, enjoy what they’re doing, and are hoopy froods that really know where their tow­el is. Engage them on Twit­ter, buy them a beer, and maybe they’ll tell you stor­ies…

The Mar­ket Makers
We’ve got a team of Mar­ket Makers — soft­ware entit­ies with per­son­al­it­ies that work in the back­ground — that ana­lyze Influ­en­cer online activ­ity and a num­ber of oth­er *secret factors* to arrive at an Influ­ence Value. These Mar­ket Makers all have dis­tinct per­son­al­it­ies and char­ac­ter­ist­ics that come into play at vari­ous times, yet all seem to be doing quite well in help­ing to estab­lish Influ­ence Value; which is also determ­ined by mar­ket trad­ing activ­ity.

So there you have it. Five of my  ‘Favour­ite Things’ about Empire Aven­ue. As I’ve said, we’re still in beta, and we do have many more things to fin­ish before we open it up to the world.

If you’re not in the Beta and are inter­ested in join­ing it, ping me on Twit­ter, I’ll see what I can do 🙂

If you’re in the beta and have some thoughts on your Favour­ite Things, then please, by all means, leave them in the com­ments below.

Getting a handle on influence and online content creation

As you may be aware, espe­cially if you’ve been blas­ted by my twit­ter stream recently, I’m help­ing some friends out with the Empire Aven­ue beta. I’ve writ­ten before about Social Media and the Power of Influ­ence, but today I’m going to talk about a few things I’ve learned over the last few weeks.

A few things about Empire Aven­ue:

  • Empire Aven­ue is about your online Value and your online Influ­ence
  • Empire Avenue’s The People’s Mar­ket is a fantasy stock mar­ket where the com­mod­ity being traded is your Influ­ence.
  • You can buy, sell, trade vir­tu­al shares in any­one on the site and rate the value of their per­son­al online brand.

Why I’m into it
For me, it’s about under­stand­ing my value to you, my loy­al min­ions friends and read­ers. There are many mod­els out there for rank­ing reach, breadth, pop­ular­ity and power of your blog, or Twit­ter stream. But there’s really noth­ing that takes the next step and helps you under­stand your online value to your read­ers, no mat­ter the medi­um be it Flickr, Face­book, Twit­ter, etc.

Value in Empire Aven­ue is determ­ined a num­ber of ways, and that’ll likely be cause for spec­u­la­tion as we move through the beta peri­ods and into full launch later this sum­mer. I believe the details of Empire Aven­ue algorithms will remain secret, much the same way that Google keeps their search algorithms under tight wraps.

How it helps me
Empire Aven­ue, as I’m begin­ning to under­stand through use, is show­ing me through activ­ity on my ‘stock’ what mem­bers of the Beta think of my con­tent, and of me as a con­tent gen­er­at­or.

Sure, many be spec­u­lat­ing or guess­ing. They’re not really read­ing my posts and under­stand­ing my value, tail­rid­ing on the activ­ity of oth­ers. That’s fine too, espe­cially since we’re in such a small-sample beta right now.

But, when we start open­ing the beta up, allow­ing friends to bring their friends into the mix, these tail­riders may be in for a sur­prise as ‘pop­ular­ity’ may not be as admir­able trait in the mar­ket­place.

I don’t know, but I’m look­ing for­ward to see how things shake out.

How to keep your travel communications costs down, easily.

Wheth­er you’re on vaca­tion or trav­el­ling for work, tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions costs are a pain, and can really impact your the cost of your travel. Recently I’ve star­ted using two tools that let me call home or the office, talk as long as I want, and not break the bank. …more

This post is an excerpt from one of my weekly posts on the Future Shop Techb­log. Check out the full post here.

Still wondering why people follow me on Twitter

Last year, I wrote a couple of posts explor­ing the reas­ons why people fol­low me on Twit­ter:

Well a year has passed since I did that basic research, and Twit­ter has been ‘improved’ in the mean­time — revised ReTweet func­tion, Lists, new desktop and mobile applic­a­tion, etc.

So it’s time to ask that ques­tion again. In the last year, I’ve doubled the num­ber of fol­low­ers, but since I did my last bit of research, I’ve not asked them why they fol­low. Time to rec­ti­fy that.

Start­ing tomor­row, I’ll go back to the pro­cess I used to gath­er the first bit of data — a return fol­low and DM to my new fol­low­ers — some­thing like this:

thanks for fol­low­ing me. This is NOT an auto-DM, I’m live :)and track­ing ‘reach’ and was won­der­ing why you ‘fol­low’ me in Twit­ter?”

I’ll let it run for a few months, and come March, I’ll ana­lyse the data again, and con­trast the res­ults with last year’s.

But in the mean­time, if you already fol­low me on Twit­ter, please feel free to send me a DM with your answer to the ques­tion “Why do you fol­low me in Twit­ter?”