Smart phones can save lives

Smart phones can save lives

In a disaster, the smartphone can mean the difference between life and death, said disaster experts at an international forum being held here.

It was also mentioned in the World Disasters Report 2013, released at its South-east Asia launch event at the YWCA Fort Canning Lodge on Thursday.

It was published by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The report said that access to information and technology during crises can save lives, especially with the prevalence of smartphones. This is because these gadgets can be used to broadcast early warnings and relief information to rescuers and victims.

Such technology can make a huge difference if used properly, said IFRC director Jagan Chapagain. He told The New Paper: "After every disaster, people will be confused about what to do and where to go for help."

He raised the example of Typhoon Bopha, which hit the Philippines in December last year, killing more than 280 people.

"When Typhoon Bopha hit, the Filipinos used text messaging to spread information about the disaster and where to seek help, and they did it very successfully," he said.

That was because 97 per cent of the population have mobile phones, he added.

The report also emphasised the need for humanitarian organisations to make use of applications capable of crunching social media data produced by affected locals.

During the 2011 earthquake in Japan, for example, Twitter users posted an average of 2,000 tweets per second, many of which contained critical information about the devastation.

Such data could be used to pinpoint where help is needed most.

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