Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Smart Use Of Smartphones: Emergency Weather Alerts


The old adage "fish where the fish are" can also apply to the latest application of the Emergency Broadcast System.  When I was young, the television was the uncontested center of our media universe.  If you wanted to reach the masses, all you had to do was get your message on TV.  Thus, my childhood was filled with the high pitched warning signal followed by an odd image on the screen and the announcement, "This is a test of the emergency broadcast system..."  But putting such a message on TV today is no longer a sure way to alert the citizenry...

We Live In A Mobile World - So Fish Where The Mobile Fish Are

Tonight, as Tropical Storm Isaac passed into the Gulf of Mexico, safely to the west of my South Florida home, after a dreary, rainy day, I was sitting at the kitchen table watching HBO GO (catching up on The Newsroom) on my Android phone when suddenly I heard that familiar "warning" tone.  But my TV was not on.  Then the message above, popped up on my phone's screen, pausing Aaron Sorkin's pithy banter midstream.  Within minutes, I could hear the wind outside winding up... things outside rustling and shaking and moving.   The dogs, inside for the day, huddled together, happily not out in the yard, where surely their dog house would soon be airborne a la The Wizard of Oz if indeed the tornado threat proved to be real.

Safe and Sound

I was not aware that the Emergency Alert System had gone mobile, but I am glad it did.  Like many of you, my smartphone is practically a physical extension of myself, a near permanent appendage, by my side more than my most loyal of pets.  I am naked if not accompanied by my handy Android, and based on countless studies and statistics I am not alone.  So it makes perfect sense for emergency warnings to move from our kitchens and living rooms to our pockets and purses.  It makes perfect sense to take advantage of the fact my phone is far more location aware than my TV...  To make sure warnings can be targeted and accurate, to be delivered into the hands of those who most need the information.  Sure enough, as the warning predicted, right around 10:15 the winds calmed down.  If there was a tornado in my area, thankfully it did not make its way into my yard.

I guess I will turn on the TV to find out...

Have you ever received an Emergency Alert on your phone?
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