With each passing day, it seems like a new smartphone app appears that either has utility for personal safety, emergency preparedness and response, or communicates the amazing extent of data and capabilities now populating mobile devices. In that regard, find below five examples:
Example #1: The Brooklyn Quality Of Life App
Overview: "A community watch group right on your cell phone."
Story: New Smartphone Application Allows People to Report Crimes to Authorities (CBSNews.com, August 13, 2012)
Example #2: Apple's Find My iPhone Service
Overview: Famous blogger's iPhone is recovered in 5 hours by social media, GPS tracking, and police officers who truly believed in both technologies.
Story: Where Is David Pogue’s iPhone? (New York Times, August 2, 2012)
Example #3: iBGStar (and a multitude of others on the way provided the FDA gives the go ahead).
Overview: With basic medical functions moving onto smartphones, basic EMS can't be far behind.
Story: Smartphone Apps Now Playing Doctor (USA Today, August 5, 2012)
Example #4: Access Data with Census APIs
Overview: The U.S. Census Bureau has just released its first API. Consequently, it is now possible to have an amazing range of demographic data available on your smartphone for things like post disaster damage assessments.
Story: US Census Bureau Posts Its First API, Allows Smartphone Apps For the Stat-Obsessed (engadget.com, July 30, 2012)
Example #5: Obama for America
Overview: No political campaign has ever used geospatial technology as effectively as President Obama did in 2008. That's not about to change in 2012 as his campaign has just deployed an application that will demonstrate to other professions the sobering level of granularity that is now possible.
Story: Is Your Neighbor a Democrat? Obama Has an App for That (ProPublica, August 3, 2012)
Comment: FEMA released its first smartphone app about a year ago. In many ways it is more like a checklist than a dynamic piece of software. It does, however, provide a map interface that shows the location of disaster shelters that are open. Given the emerging capabilities listed above, and the discussion topics on the FEMA Think Tank that have received support for expansion of apps for the Emergency Services Sector, it would seem reasonable to believe more expansive smartphone apps can't be far behind. Until then, go here for the FEMA Smartphone App.
Lead graphic: Apple.com